The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, is an agreement, signed in 2015, which aimed to control and manage the nuclear activities in Iran. The deal not only curbed the nuclear resources of Iran, but also allowed further inspections of Iranian activities.
The accord was a result of years of scrutiny over Iran’s nuclear programme. While the country proclaimed that the potentially devastating programme had peaceful intentions, the world powers didn’t believe it (of course). Hence, an agreement to this deal meant fostering world peace; well, at least for some years.
The treaty, influenced by the permanent members of the UN Security Council (The USA, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany), meant different to different people. While the world (majority of the world, to be precise) saw it as a step towards world safety, the people of Iran saw it as an opportunity for the Iranian economy to flourish and their trade to expand, since the earlier imposed sanctions were eased off. In addition to that, the US (under Barack Obama) along with several other EU nations allowed Iran to gain back $100 billion worth of money which was frozen in banks abroad, and Iran’s oil capacity touched the highs of the pre-sanction period.
On the contrary, Israel’s then PM, Benjamin Netanyahu was critical of this deal and called it “being based out of lies”.
Donald trump, former President of the USA, brought the deal back to the spotlight in 2018, when he announced the withdrawal of the US from the agreement and brought back some of the sanctions. The flaws in the deal were noted in the form of: (1) the time stamp associated with the regulations (which meant the deal no longer held true after some years, allowing Iran to recover their lost nuclear assets) and (2) the exclusion of Iran’s ballistic missile programme. While Trump’s decision invited some criticism, Iran’s Middle East neighbours, Israel and Saudi Arabia, came in favour of the decision.
Additional decisions made by the Trump Administration aimed at halting Iran’s oil and petroleum exports, again affecting the country’s economy. This resulted in Iran breaking its 2015 promises and resuming nuclear activities in the country in 2019. Subsequently, a series of killings took place with several US and Iranian personnel dying, the most notable one being the assassination of Iran’s major general Qasem Soleimani in 2020. The withdrawal of the US changed the global scenario of the Iran nuclear deal.
Cut back to today, a more stringent nuclear deal is what is sought after by leading dignitaries of many countries. Their aim: to stop a nuclear Iran. While Israel’s PM, Yair Lapid suggests that Iran should be threatened with force in order to give up their programme, America’s president, Joe Biden believes that a diplomatic bargain would do the job. However, the rising tension between Iran and Israel, after Iran blamed Israel for the killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsin Fakhrizadeh, has made Biden’s efforts go in vain and the new “conservative” Iranian government no longer seems to be interested in the JCPOA.
Biden’s recent visit to the Middle East was focused towards reviving the Iran nuclear deal, during which he stated that the US “won’t wait forever” for Iran to join the deal, and it will not hold back from using military force either. Further talks continue and we’re yet to see a clear picture.
With Ebrahim Raisi (Iran’s president) at the country’s realm, the Iranians have dreamt a dream; the dream of a nuclear-armed state and its strong position globally. Will the world powers resist towards this intended growth? If yes, will they use their diplomatic resources or will it be a forced agreement? These are the questions that need to be answered in the coming days.