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The Nuclear Deal and Iran’s Key Conditions

The Nuclear Deal and Iran’s Key Conditions

Friday, 17 June, 2022 - 10:45

With escalation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency at its height, amid Western statements that the Vienna negotiations have reached an impasse, the United States has not closed the door to diplomacy with Tehran, presenting it with a new opportunity, which may be the last before everyone concerned opts for escalation.

On Tuesday, the US State Department confirmed that it had been waiting for a constructive response from Iran regarding the 2015 nuclear agreement’s revival. Washington linked a return to the deal to two questions that are extremely sensitive both within Iran and for the regional and international powers concerned.

The first is domestic and tied to geopolitical considerations, Iran letting go of what the US State Department described as non-essential demands, a thinly veiled reference to Tehran’s demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the US terror list.

As for the second issue, it is external and impacts an already tense Iranian domestic state of affairs. Washington has linked Tehran’s re-entry into the agreement and its possession of the nuclear bomb, stressing the need for the resumption of Iran’s compliance with the agreement to precede its acquisition of a nuclear weapon.

On the first issue, the IRGC question, the Iranian regime cannot relinquish this demand regarding its backbone at this stage. Indeed, it is undergoing a transition period as it prepares for life after the Supreme Leader, with Raisi’s government coming under sharp criticism from within the conservative camp over its handling of the economic and monetary crisis as protests continue to rock most Iranian cities and the strike of the bazaars in major urban centers (in response to the government’s monetary policies and its decision to increase taxes as the currency continues to plummet) continues.

Speaking to the Mustaqil newspaper, Iranian economist Mahmood Jamsaz stressed that the current government, like those that preceded it, is unable to contain the currency’s fluctuations amid decreased confidence in the negotiations on a nuclear deal succeeding. These burdens will fall on the IRGC should things get out of control.

The backbone of the regime’s institutions and its only safeguard, the IRGC, cannot be abandoned at the negotiating table. To relent on this issue at this stage would be to relent on the core of the revolution, and it would expose the regime domestically. Thus, we could say that Washington’s insistent demands on this matter are akin to demanding that the regime in Iran give up its primary safeguard.

As for the second issue, the demand that the agreement resume before Iran acquires a nuclear bomb, it is a foreign affairs question that will reflect on domestic politics. Iran is behaving as though it has a golden opportunity to swiftly obtain a nuclear bomb, which turns the tables and changes all the parties to the negotiations’ calculations.

The regime, which is apprehensive about how both the domestic and external scenes are developing, believes that the possession of a nuclear bomb would protect it from external intervention to topple it, as well as consolidate Iran’s regional and international gains.

As for the international and regional powers sitting on the other side of the negotiating table, they insist on picking up where they left off. They refuse to grant Iran more time, and they want to avert allowing it to exploit the global economic and security implications of the war in Ukraine. They also want to avoid reaching a breaking point, at which they would be obliged to intervene to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

They have avoided military confrontation so far, but if no progress is made, they would be faced with two bitter options. Either they act before Iran announces that it has come to possess a nuclear bomb, which would change the situation in several ways, or they act after Iran makes the announcement, which is disastrous for Iran, the region, and the world.

The talk about Tehran coming close to possessing a bomb and that it is weeks away from doing so comes as the US President is about to go on a tour to the region, during which Iran’s nuclear program and its policies in the region will be at the forefront of his discussions.

And so, Iran and the region are in a race against time, as there is nothing to suggest that Iran is willing to back down or how the US will respond.

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