Rejectionists in US Cannot Derail the Deal

National Desk
Rejectionists in US Cannot Derail the  DealRejectionists in US Cannot Derail the  Deal

A former nuclear negotiator believes attempts by US “rejectionists” to derail the nuclear deal will lead nowhere, especially because it has already secured the substantial backing of the international community.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the agreement is formally known, was struck between Iran and the United States and five other major powers on July 14 to lift sanctions in return for temporary constraints on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Speaking in an interview with Financial Tribune on Tuesday, Cyrus Nasseri also commented on new amendments to the US visa law introduced by Congress to impose restrictions on visitors to Iran and the implications of the move for the deal.

“The road ahead of JCPOA is not a clean and neat highway. It’s a road full of bumps. There will be not one but several attempts by enemies of this agreement to try to derail it, to stop it, to delay it or to slow it down, whatever can give them a breathing space in order to find a way to reverse the process,” he said.     

“But the agreement has achieved such a standing at the international level that it has brought with it the support and wholehearted backing of the whole international community, [so] it is very difficult for individuals or groups, including the rejectionists in the US, to be able to stop it or reverse it for their vested interests.”

  Critical Months

Nasseri stressed that not one but several such occasions should be expected, but the point is that the first few months are critical.

“Once the agreement solidifies through a period of implementation, once it passes such major milestones as the agency’s clearance of Iran’s past activities [on Dec. 15], any milestone that is passed makes JCPOA stronger and more concretized and a lot more difficult to go against,” he said.

He expressed optimism that the deal will proceed successfully, ultimately giving Iran an “extensive large-scale, long-term peaceful nuclear program while very rapidly ridding Iran of the unfair and unjust sanctions”.

US President Barack Obama approved legislation on Friday as part of a trillion-dollar spending bill, which requires citizens of 38 visa waiver countries who have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan in the past five years to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

The move drew strong criticism from Iranian officials who described it as a clear breach of the terms of JCPOA.

Over 100 lawmakers issued a note to President Hassan Rouhani calling for a strong response to the measure.

The backlash and demand by Iranian diplomats for explanations from the US administration compelled US Secretary of State John Kerry to send a letter to his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday, reassuring him that the US will adhere to its commitments under the deal.

“We will adhere to the full measure of our commitments, per the agreement. Our team is working hard to be prepared and as soon as we reach implementation day, we will lift appropriate sanctions,” Kerry said in the letter.

“I am also confident that the recent changes in visa requirements passed in Congress, which the Administration has the authority to waive, will not in any way prevent us from meeting our JCPOA commitments and that we will implement them so as not to interfere with legitimate business interests of Iran.”

  Significant Reassurance

Nasseri underscored the importance of assurances given by Kerry, saying Iran now has a more robust guarantee than what is stated by JCPOA that the US cannot wriggle out of its commitments in future.

“What Zarif has done has brought the issue to a level that the US foreign secretary has had to express times and again the US intentions are that Iran’s relationship with the world in terms of trade and commercial activities should become normal,” he said.

“This was perhaps a small phrase in the JCPOA but now it has been emphasized, stressed and said again and again.”

The action plan commits the powers to refrain from any policy that is specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran and undermines the successful implementation of the deal.

“[Kerry’s] words go a long way because many players in the commercial and economic fields in the world do not just read JCPOA. They also listen to the statements coming from the White House, the secretary of state and especially those who have a role in [the deal,]” he noted.

“Therefore, looking at it from another angle, maybe it’s not too bad that something at this level was raised that could reach a critical level but, although not completely contained, it has been redressed at least to some extent by Kerry’s statement.”

However, the former diplomat believes Iran should pursue the case until it is fully addressed.

“In my view, Iran should continue to claim that this was an unexpected move by the United States,” he said.

  Direct Engagement

Explaining why the diplomatic push under President Hassan Rouhani to resolve the long-drawn-out nuclear standoff came to fruition, Nasseri said the decision by the US and Iranian governments to engage in direct negotiations and the two sides’ effective leadership finally led to the settlement of over 12 years of dispute.

“There are two specific elements which have contributed to the success of the negotiations in this fresh round that started when President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif took over,” he said.

“First was that we were talking to interlocutors. In previous times, we were always talking to the proxies and it is extremely difficult to manage any sort of solution on an issue which has unduly become or has reached the level of an international crisis unduly through proxies. In such situations, unless the two protagonists engage with each other directly, usually everything gets dragged and prolonged.”

Nasseri noted that the kind of discussion that took place between Iran and the United States in that context and on the side of it with the other five powers has been considered at the same level as the engagement that the US has had with China and with the former Soviet Union.

“The second element is the role of the leadership on the two sides. I think it is evident that President Barack Obama and his administration have been intent on trying to find an arrangement with Iran on the issue … And on our side, of course with Rouhani and Zarif taking charge, it was evident that they mean business, they are serious, they are tough, they are clear about the objectives, they will pursue the objective and they will achieve them, if the other side plays fair,” he concluded.