Iran Seeks Reassurance that U.S. Will Not Ditch Nuclear Deal

On Monday, November 8th, Iran stated that the United States should guarantee its adherence to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal if it shall be revived. The United States had previously abandoned the Iran Nuclear Deal under former president Donald Trump. The deals were settled upon after a grueling two years of deliberations between seven nations, exchanging tightened nuclear restrictions for economy-crippling sanctions. Such withdrawal on the part of the U.S. raised alarm for possible Iranian retaliation against Israel or an arms race in the Middle East. Donald Trump had withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan to reimpose economic sanctions regarding oil exports that had devastatingly squeezed Iran’s economy. 

Indirect talks between Washington and Iran had been temporarily halted in June by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, but are due to restart on November 29th of this year in Vienna. According to the European Union Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Iran will be present. 

Iran’s official stance, as stated by foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh, is that Washington must lift all sanctions it had imposed in Tehran through a verifiable process, as well as recognize its wrongdoings in ditching the prior plan. Meanwhile, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani will be traveling to the capitals of major European parties participating in the nuclear deal. 

The United States has made it clear that a deal with Iran was possible if Iran was “serious,” according to France24; “Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” said an EU statement. U.S. officials have supposedly made significant progress within the first six rounds of negotiations after Joe Biden took office, but cannot give guarantees that bind successor governments in both Iran and the U.S. “This is one of the issues that wasn’t resolved in the last rounds…In the new talks, that’s one of the main tasks” said Ali Bagheri Kani, who is leading Iran’s negotiating team, according to Bloomberg. Beyond reassurance, Iran also demands compensation for the damage caused by economic sanctions, while Washington and its EU allies will investigate how Iran has exceeded caps established in the 2015 deals, and how rollbacks of weapons-grade Uranium can be achieved. 

The talks occur just as Iran is increasing its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, which is needed for nuclear weapons. This is a retaliation tactic against the United States’ 2018 withdrawal, along with the decrease in access for international inspectors on important facilities and sites. The standoff has since caused regional conflicts in the Middle East. To prevent a further threat to the U.S., its allies, as well as various nations surrounding Iran, the U.S. should agree to no longer breach deals and all parties must renegotiate according to current terms. In 2015, negotiations had worked and prevented Uranium buildup until further enrichment came as a consequence of the United States’ withdrawal. Hence, it is ever more important to rebuild trust between negotiating sides and keep the integrity of international treaties to prevent further tension.