The confrontation between different ruling factions in Iran over the futile Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after three years, shows the dead-end the Iranian regime finds itself stuck in as the sanctions regime and international isolation of the regime intensifies.
The grandiosely hyped deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries, which was supposed to cure the Iranian regime’s impasses—especially the economic one—has turned into a corpse which Tehran doesn’t know what to do with.
From day one, economic suffocation was the single most important reason why the Iranian mullahs—and their Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at the forefront—sat behind the negotiation table. Now, at the doorsteps of the third anniversary of the agreement, the nuclear deal has become a self-defeating venture that has backfired against the mullahs themselves.
The JCPOA was a point of disagreement between the different ruling factions of the regime from the outset but when the current U.S. administration pulled out of the deal and the economic benefits that the mullahs have reaped over the past years started to evaporate, things started to change.
In a bid to debunk rivals’ arguments, Javad Zarif, Hassan Rouhani’s foreign minister, recently said that the goal of the deal wasn’t economic at all.
The Assembly of Experts, a powerful supervising body close to Khamenei, didn’t agree with this viewpoint in its recent statements: “Officials, especially the foreign ministry, are expected to act with regards to the nuclear deal to lift the sanctions. The goal of the negotiations is specifically to unconditionally lift all the economic, financial, banking, and nuclear sanctions completely and one shouldn’t back down on this goal.”
The January 17 statement further says that the foreign minister, and contrary to the stated path of the negotiations by Ali Khamenei, “has announced that he goal of the JCPOA was not economic and lifting the sanctions. This means backing down in front of the enemy and aberration from the main guidelines of the negotiations that was lifting the sanctions.”
On the same day, Ahmad Jannati, Chairman of the Assembly of Experts and the Guardian Council, attacked Rouhani’s faction and said that “being hopeful of the Europeans to do their JCPOA obligations is stupidity”.
“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 favor,” Jannati said.
Although he was lying but he revealed the Islamic Republic’s true fear of the existential threat it feels and said: “The very same France invites [MEK/PMOI] and organizes a summit for them, and hosts them and empowers them against the Islamic Republic.”
Jannati even took one step further than Khamenei and said: “The Supreme Leader has said that if they tear up the JCPOA, we are going to burn it but we didn’t and now [is the time] to do it.”
Mohsen Kouhkan, an Iranian MP, also referred to statements by some individuals close to Rouhani’s faction arguing that they should continue negotiations with Europe about Iran’s ballistic missiles program and said: “We went down the pit of the JCPOA with the rotten rope of the Europeans and these people need to first say what benefits we had from the JCPOA so that we continue these negotiations.”
Regardless of the opposing interests between different factions about the JCPOA, the fact is that the deal has turned into a problem for the Iranian regime and they don’t know how to deal with it.
Mohsen Jalilvand, an Iranian analyst close to the conservatives sums it up and says: “We should do our funeral prayers for the JCPOA and we should think about post-JCPOA. It’s very strange that Iran is still waiting for the JCPOA to revive.”