Umm Muhammed Umar
Attempts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are heating up, and Tehran is seeking guarantees that it will be compensated if a future US president pulls out of the pact. Last week European Union officials sent the US and Iran what it called the final text of a revised deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. On Monday night Iran responded to the proposal in writing, meeting a deadline set by the bloc. While Iran’s written response has not been made public as yet, as the country’s chief adviser to negotiations tweeted that an agreement was closer than ever. Radio Islam spoke to Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco, Steven Zunes.
Professor Zunes said that things do indeed look positive, but only because they had seemed so hopeless for so long. He said that there was a lot of political posturing, and that it was very frustrating, “almost like children talking to each other”. He said, “But gradually over time, they seem to have gotten through a lot of the obstacles and we’re getting very close to the agreement.” Professor Zunes explained, “you have this problem, this is terrible problem, where you have the Republicans, the opposition party in the United States, both their congressional leaders, and any prospective presidential candidate who could conceivably come into office in early 2025, if they win the election, promising they would undo the agreement, that they would break it off yet again.” Tehran is apprehensive, having destroyed billions of dollars of equipment the first time, and is reluctant to make that commitment again, without a guarantee.
There are also a number of other issues, one of which is the thoroughness of inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported having found some suspicious residue of some kind of manmade nuclear material and Iran doesn’t want them pursuing it. Iran also is insisting that the United States lift its designation of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the largest branch of their armed forces, as a terrorist organization. This designation of armed forces as a terrorist group is unprecedented and has made things extremely difficult, especially since the Revolutionary Guard controls a lot of businesses, even technical colleges, according to Professor Zunes, and everything else. He said, “so it makes it very easy to label millions and millions of Americans as being affiliated with a terrorist group, just because say they ended up getting a tradesman degree from some technical college that happened to be owned by (the IRG).” He added, “the only thing that’s really keeping this going is the fact that the alternative is disaster. The alternative is more sanctions, the alternative is a very real risk of war.” He said that the broader issue, as to why the world is demanding that Iran eliminate virtually all of its nuclear program, while countries like Israel, India and Pakistan are allowed to have nuclear weapons (also in violation of UN Security Council resolutions), without facing sanctions or war, wasn’t even being addressed.
The EU has been a long-time middleman or negotiator between Iran and the US. Professor Zunes said that its primary interest is global security. He said, “as long as Iran’s nuclear program continues, and the United States and Israel express such hostilities, and are threatening military action, that threatens to destabilize the whole region.” He added, “if there was a war on Iran, even if it was primarily a bombing campaign and not troops on the ground, (and) close the Strait of Hormuz, where 40% of the world’s oil exports come through, it would increase their risk of terrorism worldwide, including in Europe.” He also cited Europe’s desire to allow Iranian oil to flow again, resulting in less dependence on Russia, which, he said, could tighten the sanctions against Russian aggression in Ukraine. Further, there are also European companies that would profit from it.