Iran Says No Way to Return to 2015 Deal Without Lifting of All U.S. Sanctions

After a few months’ hiatus, talks between Iran and the U.S. regarding the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal have resumed earlier this week. Created during the Obama administration, the nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and signed by many world powers, lifted sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for the curbing of its nuclear programs. Tensions over this deal have increased sharply within the last three years as former President Donald Trump unilaterally decided to withdrawal from the deal and sharply reimpose sanctions back in 2018. The imposed sanctions have been attributed to the subsequent crippling of Iran’s economy. While both the U.S. and Iran agree on returning to the deal, many experts are not optimistic about this event taking place. The Iranian foreign minister stated before the meetings began this week that there would be “no way to return” to the deal without the dissipation of all U.S. sanctions on Iran. NBC analysts write that Iran’s cemented position “doesn’t bode well for the negotiations.” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian further stated that “the return of the U.S. to the nuclear deal would be meaningless without guarantees to prevent the recurrence of the bitter experience of the past.”

According to CNBC, six previous rounds of indirect discussions have happened between the U.S. and Iran dating back to earlier this year. However, negotiations were quickly halted following the election of hardline president Ebrahim Raisi back in August. Despite his support in returning to the deal, President Raisi has been very vocal about his distrust of the West. As previously reported, Iran does not plan to return to the deal until all U.S. sanctions have been lifted. In contrast, the Biden administration states that it will only lift sanctions once Iran has reversed its breaches of the JCPOA.

Due to Iran’s rigid stance on the deal, there exists “a mere 10% probability for revival this year and 20% for next year” shares Henry Rome, director of global macro research at political risk firm Eurasia Group. Failure to come together on this deal allows for a very grave international nuclear threat to continue for an ambiguous amount of time. Additionally, the U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran will continue to hurt the country’s economy and by extension, the Iranian people. In a situation such as this, many may wonder why Iran stands so firm in its demands. As the global superpower, the United States is never the country that concedes to the demands of other countries, so why does President Raisi think that will change for him? It is a question up for debate, but it is also highly apparent that with a new president, Iran is much “more comfortable with nuclear escalation and contestation than before” says Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. However, President Raisi’s claim that the country’s economy can survive without sanction relief appears to be very far from the truth. “Even the expansion of economic ties with neighbours has a hard ceiling if JCPOA collapses,” expert Ali Vaez expands. The issue persists as the Biden administration has yet to put any further pressure policy on Iran’s nuclear escalations.

Realistically, Iran will not have its demands met in the fashion they are calling for. Nevertheless, Raisi’s concerns over the trustworthiness of the West remain very valid. In talks surrounding the deal, there has yet to be a response from the Biden administration regarding what would keep a country like the United States from pulling out of the deal and imposing sanctions on Iran again in the future. Given the repercussions that Iran faced from President Trump’s decision in 2018, Raisi is most likely looking for a guarantee that this event will not occur again.

Due to the United States’ presence as a global superpower, the U.S.’ reasoning is often never questioned when it comes to its firm stances on international negotiations. Typically, opposing countries are often ridiculed for having demands or expecting compromise from the United States. The narrative in this situation shifts from how a nation is standing up against harmful decisions made by the American government to what will the timeframe be before a concession is expected. Message framing in this sense greatly works in favor of the United States and allows them to maintain their global power. Because of their influence, the U.S. and other world powers can bully smaller nations into conceding to their demands. Out of fear for the decline of the U.S.’ global influence, American presidential administrations have rarely come to foreign negotiation tables with a wavering hand. Even so, with the incredible influence of the United States government, might it also be just as possible to make compromises that can support multiple countries at once? The strict positions the U.S. takes in international negotiations drastically affect the lives of people abroad. With that said, the U.S. government should find ways to become more flexible in international negotiations to increase, or at the very least, not worsen the quality of life internationally. Every day that the United States continues to maintain an immovable stance on negotiations, people around the globe continue to pay the price.

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