UN backs Iran deal

UN backs Iran deal
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged US President Donald Trump to not nullify the Iran nuclear deal. He is among other world leaders who have voiced support..

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged US President Donald Trump to not nullify the Iran nuclear deal. He is among other world leaders who have voiced support for the JCPOA.

Background

Iran’s nuclear program was first launched in the 1950s, with help from the United States. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970. Support from the West continued until the Iranian Revolution and the ascent of Ayatollah Khomeini into power. Iran’s nuclear program has been a source of concern for the international community since then.

During the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) investigations in the country, it was revealed that Iran had not declared a number of its nuclear activities and was not in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  In 2006, the country also refused to suspend its uranium enrichment program. The United Nations consequently imposed a number of sanctions on the nation.

By 2015, Iran had lost billions of dollars due to these sanctions; an estimated $100 billion in oil revenue alone. It had also lost out on Foreign Direct Investment. In July 2015, Iran agreed to sign a nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) with major powers Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States. According to the JCPOA, Iran would limit its nuclear ambitions in return for relief from a number of sanctions. The IAEA declared that Iran had complied with the terms of the provisional agreement and sanctions were lifted in 2016.

Analysis

US President Trump refused to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal in October last year. He also noted that the US would walk away from the treaty if the other parties had not “fixed” the agreement by May 2018. As the deadline approaches, European allies have begun urging the US President to not walk away from the deal.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has spoken in favor of the JCPOA. He noted that unless a satisfactory replacement is found, the US should not nullify the present agreement. “If one day there is a better agreement to replace it it’s fine, but we should not scrap it unless we have a good alternative,” Guterres said in an interview with BBC Radio 4. “I believe the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal) was an important diplomatic victory and I think it will be important to preserve it but I also believe there are areas in which it will be very important to have a meaningful dialogue because I see the region in a very dangerous position. I understand the concerns of some countries in relation to the Iranian influence in other countries of the region. So I think we should separate things.”

Hamid Baeidinejad, Iran’s ambassador for the UK has bluntly put forth the nation’s next course of action if the deal were to fall apart. He said that Iran would immediately re-start its uranium enrichment programme. "The consequence would be that Iran would in fact be ready to go back to the previous situation," Hamid Baeidinejad told Christiane Amanpour in London on Wednesday. "It could be enriching uranium, it could be redefining our cooperation with the agency [IAEA], and some other activities that are under consideration."

Recently, French President Macron met with Trump to try and dissuade him from pulling US from the treaty. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also set to meet with the US leader to do the same.

It comes just days after Israel revealed "secret nuclear files" accusing Iran of having covertly pursued nuclear weapons.

Assessment

Our assessment is that barring Washington, the nuclear deal has international support especially from the European Union and the UN. There are concerns that if Iran backs away from the nuclear deal, it will be difficult to regulate its nuclear program. Thus, it would make the Middle East more vulnerable. We believe that it will be necessary for Washington and its allies to come to a decision that ensures that the JCPOA remains in place, as there is no alternative to this at the moment.

 

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