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Risk Without Reward

Economist
Pouya Jabal AmeliPouya Jabal Ameli

President Hassan Rouhani recently outlined his administration's performance in the first 100 days of his second term in office during a televised interview.

The president showed that the government has achieved considerable economic goals during the period. He reviewed job figures, cash subsidies, agricultural and industrial progress and economic growth, among other records.

The surprising feature of his interview, however, was that he did not refer to achievements emanating from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the historic 2015 nuclear deal with major powers which eased sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Rouhani had always championed the potential economic benefits of the nuclear accord until several months after the deal's implementation in January 2016. The truth is that he had put all his eggs in the deal's basket, but now he cannot even mention it.        

To strike the deal, the government had pitched its major potential benefits to counter arguments by its staunch opponents. But now, no one denies that the real advantages of JCPOA do not correspond to Rouhani’s promises.

Iran suspended its nuclear program in good faith and the UN nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran’s compliance, but the other side, especially the US, is making concerted efforts to block the benefits envisaged for Iran under the deal by raising claims not linked with the nuclear deal, such as the country’s missile development and regional activities.

How is it possible to consider the US to be fulfilling its obligations when it no longer believes in the deal? Iranians thought that the deal would be a step toward resolving other issues, but the US has demonstrated that it is not reliable as its officials can easily undermine any agreement signed by them.

President Rouhani and his team took a high risk by sitting down for talks with western officials, but it seems that the deal has no reward, no future. Therefore, under the circumstances, it is not rational to think Iran would be able to continue to abide by its nuclear obligations.

Certainly, it is not enough for the European Union to inform the US that JCPOA is working; instead, they should realize why former US president, Barack Obama, entered into negotiations with Iran in the first place.

JCPOA was never supposed to be a final agreement for both sides, but it was meant to be a major step toward it. Trump is ruining all the gains without understanding the motivations behind the talks.

In 2005, the Iranian reformist administration, in the final days of its tenure, announced that Iran would end the suspension of the country’s uranium enrichment program based on the Paris agreement signed in 2003 because the other side had reneged on its commitments. It is very likely that the same scenario could unfold again, if the US continues its hostile strategy against JCPOA and Iran. The EU cannot blame Iran for such a reversal of events.

 

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