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Iran’s Options Moving Forward

The Obama administration lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran when the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was agreed. Trump made the decision to pull out of the deal in May and on 6th August he signed an executive order for the first round of sanctions to take effect. These sanctions are to increase economic pressure on Iran and will impact the trade of precious metals including gold, steel and aluminium. Furthermore, the sanctions are related to Iran’s purchases using the dollar and the trade of coal and commercial passenger aircrafts.

Over the past year, the Rial – Iran’s national currency – has lost more than three-quarters of its value. The announcement that the United States was exiting the nuclear deal didn’t help the situation, but much of the decrease in value is a direct result of the Iranian regime’s corruption and mismanagement.

Journalist Joseph Puder has suggested a few options that Iran has moving forward.

The first one is that it remains within the framework of the current deal and encourages the other Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signatories to isolate the United States and decline to join it in resuming collective sanctions. If it remained within the deal’s framework, Iran could start its nuclear activities once again in a few years. This option would mean that Iran would soon have no restrictions on obtaining nuclear weapons.

The Europeans are staying within the JCPOA’s framework and Iran is trying to get them to help it fight against the US sanctions. It wants Europe to continue buying its oil in defiance of the US and it is saying that it does not want the issue of its ballistic missile program to be raised. Iran has also said that it will stay in the JCPOA agreement if Europe compensates it for the damage done by US sanctions.

The European signatories – France, Germany and Britain – are desperate to maintain trade relations with Iran and they are scrambling to find ways to appease Iran. However, they cannot provide financial aid without requesting something in return and Iran will probably be expected to renegotiate on its belligerence and its ballistic missile program. Puder, however, points out that this is more because it wants the US to re-join the deal rather than a desire to actually curb Iran’s behaviour.

Another possibility is that Iran will resume its nuclear enrichment to pre-deal levels or more. The Supreme Leader has already threatened to do this if Europe “lingers” over the demands Iran made. It has also been suggested that Iran could cancel its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) treaty. Such a move would make it clear that Iran is on the quest for a nuclear weapon. This could result in Europe withdrawing from the deal and military action from the United States to curb the nuclear threat.

Another possibility is Iran will negotiate a new deal involving the United States. Officials in Iran have already said that it is out of the question to negotiate a new deal. However, if the economic crisis in Iran gets any worse, the regime may not have any other option if it wants to survive. If negotiations start for a new deal, it is expected that the Trump administration will address each and every issue that was omitted from the original deal including its missile program and its meddling in the region.

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