By Amir Taghati
When the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), was signed, it created a great deal of controversy. There were those who opposed it because it was too forgiving of Iran’s behaviour and because it didn’t fully address the nuclear threat, or Iran’s belligerence and meddling in the region. On the other hand, there were those who believed that it was a good deal that was necessary in protecting the world against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
However, even in Tehran, the nuclear deal created divisions within the regime. And it is still the source of great tension between different factions.
There was great hope for the clerical leaders of Iran, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who allegedly sat in the background of the negotiations ready to give the go-ahead for any decisions. They hoped the country’s economic issues would resolve themselves eventually. However, it has not quite worked out that way.
Iran is becoming more and more isolated on the world stage and its economic situation could barely be worse.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced last year that the nuclear agreement was simply not working for the United States and he pulled out. Sanctions were re-applied and the U.S. is exerting more pressure than ever on the Iranian regime.
The Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, said that the aim of the deal was not anything to do with economic benefits. Yet, showing that the regime has no coherence, the Assembly of Experts – a body with a great deal of power and a close ally of the Supreme Leader – has said that the Foreign Minister’s viewpoint is completely false.
In a recent statement it said that the foreign ministry was tasked with ensuring that sanctions were lifted through the nuclear agreement. It explicitly stated that Iran’s aim during the negotiations for the deal was to “unconditionally lift all the economic, financial, banking, and nuclear sanctions completely” and it reaffirmed that this still stands.
Chairman of the Assembly of Experts and the Guardian Council Ahmad Jannati said last week that the deal is pretty much dead now that the United States has pulled out. He also criticised the Europeans for failing to act since the U.S. exited it. He said: “Some say that after the U.S. leaving the JCPOA, Europeans will do something for us, while they drag their feet and will never do anything in our favour.”
He went on to say that the country’s Supreme Leader had threatened to tear the deal up if the United States left, yet Iran still remains party to it. Jannati said that now is the time for Iran to finally disregard it.
What started off as a relative success for Iran has turned into a nightmare. From the U.S. side, the controversial deal was a red flag to President Trump as he entered office and he has spoken extensively about its failure to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, going as far to say that it in fact guaranteed a nuclear race in the region.