Iran has announced that it is further withdrawing from its commitments under the Nuclear Deal that it had agreed with the world powers in July 2015. Iran’s reason behind this action was that since the European Union had failed to adhere to their commitments to the Nuclear Deal, Iran was also not obliged to do the same. Since the unilateral withdrawal from the Nuclear Deal by the United States, Iran and the European Union had been working hard to save the deal with an understanding between them that the European Union would ensure that the economic promises that were promised to Iran under the Nuclear Deal would actually reach it so that Iran could continue with its own commitments under the Nuclear Deal towards maintaining the limitations to its nuclear programme.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the Director of the Iranian Nuclear Energy Agency further elaborated Iran’s rationale behind this decision. According to Dr. Salehi, Iran retains the right to ‘gradually downgrade’ it’s part of commitments due to the failure of the European Union to uphold theirs’. He said that the European parties had failed to adequately restore Iran’s access to foreign trade which was blocked by the imposition of the US sanctions and therefore Iran had decided to further withdraw from its own commitments under the Deal.
An Iranian news agency reported last week that Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had written to the European Union Foreign Policy Chief announcing this decision of further withdrawing from its commitments to limit its nuclear research and development activities. According to the decision, Iran would begin developing the centrifuges to speed up the enrichment of uranium. However, the new measures would be ‘peaceful’ in so far as it would be under the IAEA surveillance and could be reversed if the European powers kept their promises.
Nevertheless, the recent Iranian decision to downgrade its commitments should not be seen as the end of the Nuclear Deal. Rather, it should be seen as intended to pressurise the European Union to ensure that Iran gets its economic benefits faster. Indeed, the European Union, led by France has been striving to save the Nuclear Deal and the evidence of this was clear during the G7 meeting held in France last month. At the invitation of the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif came to Biarritz, for the event where US President Donald Trump was also present. Although this effort of the French President did not culminate into the actual talks between the US and Iran, it did exemplify the unprecedented efforts that are being made to save the Deal.
In a situation where the conflict between the United States and Iran has been escalating day by day and the issues related to capturing of the tankers in the Persian Gulf have been further aggravating the situation, it becomes imminent for all the parties to make sincere efforts to defuse the crisis. The United States has so for maintained its policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran and it is under this policy the US administration has been adamant that it will sanction any country which buys oil from Iran. However, this policy constricts the basic philosophy of the Iranian Nuclear Deal, which had ensured that Iran would get the economic benefits in lieu of its commitments to curb its nuclear programme. This dilemma has been germinated due to the decision of the United States to withdraw from the deal and reinstate the sanctions on Iran and it is this dilemma that the European Union has been trying to resolve.
India has been closely watching the developments as the stakes for India is high because of Iran’s position as an important source of energy. Iran also falls under the extended neighbourhood of India and therefore the peace and stability of this region is of paramount importance to India. It is hoped that the world powers would soon amicably resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Script: Dr. Asif Shuja, Strategic Affairs Analyst on Iran