On Monday, July 26th in a statement regarding the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, France took the stance that without Iran returning to negotiations and reaching a final agreement, the possibility of the deal being reenacted is in danger. Earlier this year, in Vienna, talks to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, began once again after President Biden said the United States would rejoin the agreement if Iran is compliant.
The other powers involved in the JCPOA, such as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China, remain in the agreement. However, after the United States withdrew in 2018, Iran has resumed expanding its nuclear development. Even though a compromise has not yet been reached, Iran has stated that it will return to negotiations once the transition of newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi is completed in August, and when the United States lifts the current sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
To emphasize the importance of Iran’s role in the nuclear deal, French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Von der Mühll stressed in the press briefing that it is “urgent” that Iran be involved in the continuing rounds of negotiations, otherwise “it could compromise the very possibility of…restoring the JCPOA.” Adding to the concern is the fact that Iran has once again begun developing materials that are involved in the creation of nuclear weapons, specifically enriched uranium. The French, British, and German ministers released a joint statement earlier in the month urging Iran “to halt all activities in violation of the JCPOA without delay,” calling it a “grave concern” that the commitments that were made in the deal have been disregarded.
Without Iran’s involvement in the negotiation process to restore the JCPOA, the situation looks precarious. If restrictions are already being broken, there is no telling whether imposing limitations will be effective. Iran may be overlooking the power and enforcement mechanisms of the nuclear deal, so if talks do not take place involving all the countries that are part of the agreement to move forward, it may be useless. Spokeswoman Von der Mühll was accurate in saying that Iran needs to return to negotiations for the deal to once again be active, otherwise not only would the JCPOA be powerless to limit Iran’s nuclear activities, but peace and stability would be on the line for the Middle East and the world.
Iran has long held a difficult relationship regarding its nuclear program and backlash from the international community, as it began developing nuclear materials in secret for many decades, even after signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. Iran pursuing this technology causes concern for many countries worldwide, for the possibility of Iran detonating a nuclear weapon in a moment of instability could prove to be a disaster with consequences reaching farther than the Middle East.
Therefore, as a precaution, the six world powers began negotiating a deal with Iran that would impose restrictions on the nuclear development program, as well as monitor the country’s activities through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It was successfully signed and put into motion in 2015, but after President Trump essentially claimed the deal was too lenient in 2018 and imposed sanctions, Iran began going against the restrictions. Today, Iran continues to disregard some of the promises made within the agreement regarding uranium enrichment, while the United States still has banking and oil sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s exports. With the future of the nuclear deal seeming uncertain, it is possible that Iran could be developing a nuclear weapon in secret once again unless negotiations can return to reinstate the JCPOA.
Within the next month, the fate of the Iran nuclear deal will be determined, as both the United States and Iran said they would return to negotiations as soon as the circumstances allow. This is vital for the JCPOA to continue, as there is a risk of the deal being completely negated if an agreement can not be reached and Iran persists in pursuing dangerous nuclear technology. In the bigger picture, there is more at stake if the nuclear deal ceases to be in effect, as with no limitations, Iran could go to the extreme and develop a weapon that may rival that of the world powers. The JCPOA was created as insurance to prevent a crisis, which France wants to protect. However, without the deal, once again, nuclear warfare may be closer than expected.