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The JCPOA in a Political Whirlwind

Iran's regime claimed that its nuclear program is peaceful. But traces found at its nuclear sites indicate that the regime has a secret nuclear weapons program.
Iran's regime claimed that its nuclear program is peaceful. But traces found at its nuclear sites indicate that the regime has a secret nuclear weapons program.

With the end of the sixth round of the Vienna talks over Iran’s nuclear program, the date of a new round of talks and the return of the P4 + 1 and Iran-United States political delegations to Austria remains unclear, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell told EuroNews that Iran has said it will not return to talks until the president (Ebrahim Raisi) takes office in August.

The stalling of the Vienna talks has fueled skepticism and pessimism about the revival of the JCPOA, especially the remarks made by Russia’s permanent representative, Mikhail Ulyanov, who until then had always made hopeful remarks, added to the negative possibilities for a nuclear deal. He warned last week that postponing the talks could weaken the resolve of the parties to the agreement.

This is even though after the start of the Vienna talks and the initial agreement of the members and the announcement of the start of writing the final text of the agreement, optimism about an early understanding increased so that some believed that the sixth round of negotiations would reach a final agreement.

There are different reactions as to why the agreement could not be reached after six rounds of negotiations and an indefinite postponement of its continuation.

In general, the differences between the negotiating parties can be assessed at two technical-legal and political levels. At the technical-legal level, which seems to be the shell of the negotiations, some agreements have been reached so that the lifting of substantive sanctions has not been significantly challenged in the face of Iran’s nuclear retreat.

Some regime experts estimate that lifting sanctions on banking, oil, petrochemicals, insurance, and shipping would free at least 80 percent of Iran’s economy from the sanctions shadow.

But what the regime is searching for is the lifting of the sanctions imposed on a real and legal person which are mainly the regime’s IRGC and the supreme leader Ali Khamenei. But the US has said it cannot lift non-nuclear sanctions imposed under Trump’s administration.

On the other hand, the US and the European Troika are insisting that the new generation centrifuges be either destroyed or removed from Iran due to the reduction of Iran’s nuclear ‘escape point’, which has not been approved by the regime.

Another thing that the regime wants is the reliance of the US government on fact-checking which the US government did not accept, fearing that the US would leave a new agreement based on its desire.

Therefore, in the technical-legal aspects, some agreements have been reached but the main subject remains left, which is a JCPOA+ which is requested by the world powers which included the regime’s missile project and its regional policies, and its human rights case.

A JCPOA+ that the regime can and will not accept, and a withdrawal from nuclear progress would be costly for Tehran if it exceeded the limits set by the regime’s supreme leader as many of its experts said. Such fear can only translate into the regime’s fear of a collapse and more protests because more withdrawals will weaken the IRGC.

On the other hand, US President Joe Biden is facing serious opposition from both parties in the process of reviving the JCPOA, which has manacled his hands and has faced serious restrictions. Biden needs congressional support to lift non-nuclear sanctions, something that is not possible in the current context.

According to the tradition of US presidents, Biden does not want to jeopardize his party’s position in internal factional rivalries in the first round and the first year of his term by using challenging executive orders.

Therefore, the main stalemate must be sought in the political components. And the regime has no other way than to make crucial and effective decisions in the coming days, otherwise, the principle of the agreement will be threatened, because of the erosion of the negotiations and opposing voices in the United States which are becoming louder day after day will hinder the formation of the final understanding, which is a danger for the Iranian regime.

Iran’s regime must accept that to revive the JCPOA, there is no choice but to relinquish some concessions and withdraw from some positions because any win-win agreement requires mutual benefit, otherwise, even if one side wins the agreement, its stability will be challenged.

So, what the regime has started in the recent months, which is decreasing its nuclear escape point, is becoming a trap killing a new JCPOA agreement and will face the regime with more challenges because all the world powers expressed many times that they will not accept a nuclear regime in Iran.