A top Iranian diplomat and a former nuclear negotiator says the Trump administration has backed down from its anti-JCPOA rhetoric in the face of Europe’s strong support for the historic deal.
Hamid Baeidinejad, the Iranian Ambassador to London and a member of the country’s nuclear negotiating team, has weighed in on the developments surrounding the deal signed between Tehran and six world powers on Iran’s nuclear program known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
He wrote the Farsi article for the Iran newspaper on the eve of the second anniversary of the conclusion of the agreement.
The full text of his remarks follows:
Today, we are on the eve of the second anniversary of the signing, in Vienna, of the JCPOA, an agreement regarded by world governments and other members of the international community as the biggest achievement on the diplomatic front in recent decades. The JCPOA is an international deal which put an end to one of the toughest and most complicated recent international crises.
The JCPOA not only helped maintain and boost regional and international peace and security, but had brilliant achievements for Iran as well. It secured our country’s nuclear rights, and removed many of the obstacles to national progress and development created by the sanctions, something which is clear to all fair-minded individuals. The JCPOA ended sanctions against Iran in the fields of energy (oil, gas, and petrochemistry), transport (commercial vessels, oil tankers and planes), and many other similar areas. They were the sanctions whose destructive effects on Iran’s economy were really tangible. The lifting of financial, economic, energy, banking and other sanctions on Iran led to the resumption of the country’s oil and natural gas exports, unfreezing of tens of billions [of dollars] in frozen Iranian assets with foreign banks, purchase of aircraft for the first time and renovation of the country’s air fleet, and resumption of transiting commodities by sea.
The positive impact of the JCPOA on Iran’s economic development resulted in an eight-percent economic growth after dozens of years. It is hoped that this positive trend will, by God’s grace, continue despite all jealousies and pressures. Given Iran’s special status in the region, the JCPOA has provided us with an exceptional opportunity to establish strategic relations with neighbouring countries, especially Iraq. The defeat of the ISIS terror group in Iran and Syria once again proved that Iran’s power is not a tool to dominate other nations, but rather is a factor to establish and ensure peace and security in the region.
If, today, on the eve of the second anniversary of the conclusion of the JCPOA, the deal has remained the focus of attention on the regional and international levels, the reason is that the fundamental principles of the agreement are strong and firm. Even the new US administration, which had announced it would tear up the JCPOA once it comes into office, has failed to take action against the agreement and, despite all its rhetoric and breaches of promises, has had to abide by its obligations under the JCPOA and announce that it would continue to comply with its commitments until carrying out a precise assessment. Still, despite all objections, Washington has openly violated some of the key bilateral and multilateral agreements. In spite of objections, the US began the construction of a wall along its border with Mexico, unilaterally breached the agreements which the Obama administration and Havana had already signed and which had been termed “historic,” and worst of all, unilaterally pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The new US president launched the most severe attacks against the JCPOA at the beginning of his election campaign. He called the JCPOA the worst agreement in history and promised not to implement it. Nevertheless, despite all this rhetoric, the US administration made good on its commitments at a few sensitive junctures when it had to make key decisions for the JCPOA to continue to survive. The first juncture was when Washington ordered a ban to remain in place on the implementation of sanctions which would have been renewed after four months had the US not ordered its implementation to stop. This would have, incontrovertibly, been a violation of the JCPOA. It was a very sensitive juncture. However, the US president reinstated a ban on the enforcement of sanctions, which caused the implementation of the sanctions to stop.
The second juncture was when, by virtue of an earlier US congressional enactment, the administration had to report to the Congress on whether or not Iran was living up to its commitments under the JCPOA. At that stage, too, the US administration officially announced to legislators Iran’s compliance with the deal. The third juncture was when the US had to decide whether or not to get on board with the international community in confirming or not confirming Iran’s compliance with its commitments regarding money laundering; a confirmation that would, at least, suspend international restrictions against Iran’s banking system.
Although the move was not directly related to the implementation of the JCPOA, it could be a serious challenge to the implementation of the agreement. In a recent meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering in Valencia held to discuss effective enforcement of regulations on fighting money laundering and funding terrorism, the US agreed along with a number of members to suspend measures against Iran.
Given the stances that the American president has adopted against the JCPOA time and again, the above-mentioned decisions by the US government were among the toughest decisions that Washington had to make. However, the most important reason why the US got on board with the international community was that all US allies, especially European countries and permanent members of the UN Security Council, unanimously believed that it was necessary to maintain the JCPOA as the most important accomplishment on the diplomatic front. This shows the JCPOA has a strong foundation, which guarantees its continued implementation.
But, indubitably, the implementation of the JCPOA is coupled with challenges as well. Although the US government has not specifically acted against its fundamental obligations until this moment, Washington’s maintaining its hostile policies vis-à-vis the JCPOA has somehow made major trade companies and international banks cautious about getting involved in economic and financial transactions with Iran. This runs counter to governments’ obligations under the JCPOA as they are committed, under the deal, to adopting effective measures to support the agreement in a bid to normalize trade relations with Iran. Within the same framework, if the US Senate bill passes through the House of Representatives and is signed by the US president, it would be a move which needs to be studied carefully, regardless of whether or not it is in compliance with the JCPOA. Such a move would undoubtedly create an atmosphere in economic and trade transactions with Iran which would keep the Islamic Republic from reaping the full benefits of the JCPOA. The US government and other key signatories to the JCPOA are committed to preventing such measures one way or another. The US, too, should end its hostile policies on the JCPOA.
All in all, the JCPOA is an international and multilateral agreement. No country can decide on its fate unilaterally, and all parties to the deal should remain committed to the implementation of its provisions in order to maintain the agreement.