US Domestic Issues on Nuclear Deal Not Iran's Problem

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Behzad Saberi, Ph.D., Expert in International Law and Politics

On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, the 15-member Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate passed a bill, which in case of final approval will delegate the US Congress enough power to uphold or turn down a possible nuclear agreement with Iran. In order to become a law, the bill should be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, and should not be vetoed by President Barack Obama too. Some have said that according to this bill, the United States will be obligated to submit immediately the final text of a nuclear agreement with Iran to the Congress. The Congress, for its part, will have a maximum of 30 days to go through it and none of the sanctions imposed against Iran will be removed in the period that the agreement is being considered by the Congress.

Last August, I had written an article entitled “West’s unpreparedness for a win-win outcome.” In that article, I wrote, “It seems that the opposite side … perhaps never imagined that the Islamic Republic will get engaged in serious negotiations with the United States over such an important issue as its nuclear program. Therefore, it would be logical to claim that the West has not been basically ready for the nuclear issue and, as a consequence, the issue of anti-Iran sanctions, to be resolved through negotiations. It was only after the last November’s interim deal in the Swiss city of Geneva and with the start of Vienna talks that it was clear how “unprepared” the West is for taking part in these negotiations. In reality, sanctions imposed against Iran by the United States are so complicated, varied, extensive and intermingling that American officials and law experts, even those who have specifically worked on the issue of Iran's sanctions for many years, are now at loss for complete understanding of the existing laws and regulations that govern sanctions. Likewise, they have also great difficulty for understanding legal mechanisms that should be used in order to suspend or remove these sanctions. It is quite clear that the sanctions regime has not been formulated to be removed as a result of ‘negotiations’.”

In view of this introduction, one may claim that the American side expected Iran to compromise on the details of the sanctions during the negotiations in return for only one concession, namely, acceptance by the West of Iran's right to enrich uranium on its soil. Of course, in view of all sanctions resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, this could have been a very important, fundamental and unprecedented concession in the history of the United Nations. However, steadfastness of the Iranian negotiating team on the national interests of the country, which was marked with logic and rational arguments, caused the negotiations to become protracted during which all the details of every problem, including the sanctions, were put on the agenda of the negotiations.

As a result of their steadfastness, false mentalities that might have existed about convincing Iran to accept an easier and more rapid agreement with Obama administration have been rendered null and void. This is true as the United States was playing “good cop and bad cop” game with Iran in which the US administration played the role of the good cop as opposed to the bad cop, which in this case was the US Congress.

However, even possible approval of this bill will cause no difference in the situation of the negotiations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the West. On September 19, 2014, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took part in an interview with the Newshour program of the US-based PBS network, in which he said, “We deal with the government [of the United States]. Of course, we know the complexities, the domestic complexities involved. But as a sovereign state, we deal with the United States government as a sovereign state. We do not interfere in the internal domestic politics of the United States.” Through such diplomatic rhetoric, Zarif actually emphasized that if the negotiating parties were to get at a solution to Iran's nuclear issue through the negotiations and if every party was supposed to fulfill its obligations within framework of that solution, it will not be Iran's problem if the US government is facing difficulties within the country’s political system in this regard. In other words, he implied that the legal or executive steps that should be taken inside the United States in order to pave the way for the implementation of any agreement pertains to Americans and “this is not our problem.” This was accurate translation of the official position taken by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran (which is not limited to the administration), and the foreign minister only repeated it. Afterwards, that position has been frequently repeated at various levels and has not changed so far.

It makes no difference to the Iranian government and its negotiators what internal mechanisms are used by the US and other governments to make a final decision on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), when it is reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries. For example, it is not Iran's problem whether the US Congress will take steps under domestic or foreign factors to limit the powers of the US president or not. At the same time, it is noteworthy that such domestic political complexities are not limited to the United States. For example, although the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy as well as foreign ministers of three important European countries are present at the negotiations, revocation of the sanctions imposed on Iran by the European Union (EU) would require consensus of all member countries of the European Union. Now, assume that after an agreement is reached with Iran such a consensus cannot be achieved by the EU member states. In that case, the agreement will not enter into force. However, the only thing that is important to Iran is that the JCPOA, if finally achieved, should be carried out exactly as it has been agreed upon by the negotiating parties. Only in that case, Iran will implement those parts of the JCPOA that it is obligated to do.

As Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said during a recent ceremony held to mark the National Nuclear Technology Day, Iran will not accept any agreement with the P5+1 group “unless all economic sanctions are removed all at once in the first day of the implementation of such an agreement.” It is important for our country that this condition, along with other red lines, be met through the agreement that is being negotiated. Now, if domestic problems facing the US administration or other countries postpone the implementation of this agreement for any period of time, be it 30 days or 60 days, Iran will naturally put off implementation of its share of obligations as per JCPOA. If the US Congress or any other authority prevents the implementation of the agreement by the US government, the same will happen on Iran's side as well, and the implementation of the part related to the Islamic Republic will be also deferred. At any rate, the Islamic Republic of Iran will lose nothing. If a final agreement is reached on the text of the JCPOA, it will be either implemented as it is agreed upon and with due care for Iran's considerations, or it will not be carried out at all. The intervention of the US Congress or any other legal institution cannot lead to any changes in the JCPOA without Iran's consent.

In addition to the continuation of its constructive regional and international policies that are based on cooperation and interaction, Iran has shown through its new negotiating approach that its nuclear program poses no threat to international peace and security. Tehran has also indicated that it is totally ready for interaction with other countries for the achievement of a logical and fair solution to the nuclear issue, which may even include accepting certain strict inspections and temporary restrictions, in order to leave no doubt about the merely peaceful nature of its nuclear program. This approach has led to undeniable promotion of Iran's position in international relations as has been attested to by considerable increase in Iran's diplomatic moves and the more powerful role it plays in the region and the world. Such a constructive approach by Iran has helped all governments recognize real motivations behind any obstructionist efforts, which aim to disrupt the path to an agreement, and those who are behind such efforts. Therefore, from now on, there are no promising prospects for the escalation of anti-Iran sanctions or mounting pressure on other governments to implement the existing sanctions. At the same time, any reference to the “options on the table” now looks more like a political joke.

Key Words: US, Domestic Issues, Nuclear Deal, Iran, P5+1, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, President Barack Obama, Iran's Sanctions, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), EU, President Hassan Rouhani, Saberi   

Source: Iran Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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