The seemingly never-ending, seesaw-style JCPOA Vienna talks have been going on and off for a few months. All parties have repeatedly acknowledged that the negotiations have reached a critical stage, and meaningless deadlines and ultimatums have been voiced to legitimize these negotiations. A White House spokesman recently said that “a deal that addresses all sides’ core concerns is in sight, but if it is not reached in the coming weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible for us to return to the JCPOA”
A spokesman for Iran’s Parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said: “The conditions are ready for a win-win agreement.” But he laments that “it was our right to ask for the lifting of all the sanctions, but the opponent agreed to remove some of them.”
The US and the European governments are trying to convince and, at times, force the Islamic Republic to pull back from its enrichment technical advances over the past year or two by offering incentives of all sorts. According to the Wall Street Journal, an agreement that shortens the time it takes to build an atomic bomb raises new doubts about Biden’s ability to reach a longer and more effective agreement that the government believes will further limit Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.
It is unlikely that a new treaty will be signed in the coming weeks, as the two sides acknowledge that they need to make more progress in the negotiations. In the abyss of economic collapse and its fear from widespread unrest and protests by the Iranian people, the Iranian government needs the immediate and comprehensive lifting of sanctions. It looks like the current US government and its European allies see their global image damaged if they cannot reach some kind of agreement with Iran after the Trump administration opted to abandon the 2015 JCPOA.
Both sides have been elaborating and arguing about many preconditions and differences for a long time. However, there are other disputes over signing a new agreement (if that ever materializes), which are also worth noting. One example is the lifting of nuclear sanctions. Sanctions that Western governments have shown some positive signs of lifting if Iran retreats from its nuclear advancements. Still, the regime in Tehran is not willing to do so, unless, according to Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, the lifting of nuclear sanctions be “verified” by Iran. This is yet another obstacle thrown at the negotiations by the Iranian regime, intended to gain the upper hand. That is, Iran must first check whether the sanctions have been effectively lifted or not, and then they will begin the halting process of uranium enrichment, place limitations on their nuclear facilities, and so on.
In other words, even if an agreement is achieved and signed, the regime wants to buy a few months for itself under the pretext of “verification.” Another point of contention is which sanctions are related to Iranian’s nuclear program that could be lifted and which are related to Iran’s terrorism, regional meddling, human rights, money laundering, etc. It is worth noting that many officials in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and other high-ranking government officials are internationally prosecuted or sanctioned for their involvement in terrorism, smuggling, and money laundering.
What political weight could a “successful” new JCPOA have on the international stage? Why is there so much controversy surrounding these negotiations? Would reaching an agreement with Iran ease the international community’s concerns regarding Iran’s malignant nuclear intentions? Could Iran be trusted to stay faithful to its obligations penned in the new agreement? One may disagree with such optimism, based on what history has taught us and on understanding the subtle source of the issue. That is the fundamental impasse of the Islamic Republic’s relationship with the West, especially with the United States.
The anti-American policy of the Iranian regime and beating on the drum of the destruction of Israel and the like have prevented this government from entering the international arena and the global market and establishing long-lasting relations with the West. The paradox of the Islamic state is that it deeply needs to enter the international arena and deal with the West to rebuild and revive its bankrupt economy. The country’s economy is collapsing under the colossal mismanagement and corruption of this regime. Analysts unanimously believe that Iran’s continuous economic collapse bring the whole regime down.
According to many economists in Iran, the revival of the JCPOA and greater access to the Western market could help the country’s dilapidated economy for a while and “delay the regime’s downfall for two or three years.” On the other hand, the regime can’t abandon its anti-American ideology, stop mobilizing thugs against the “Great Satan,” and use its proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria,… to attack them. These terrorist attacks and anti-American rhetoric act as the glue of keeping its loyal groups both inside Iran and abroad, together. That’s one reason why according to various sources, Iran has been involved in direct, secret negotiations with American officials at different times but has never admitted doing so. The regime in Tehran needs to keep its anti-American façade on its policies and behavior in the region.
Trusting the regime in Tehran is more of a wish than a reality, and even if a new JCPOA is agreed upon, it will be no cure for the International community’s concern for Iran’s nuclear and terrorist activities. The crisis the Iranian regime is facing is much deeper and cannot be remedied by signing an agreement and unfreezing truckloads of cash, hoping it will result in the betterment of the ordinary citizen’s living conditions.
The real solution
As a result, the nuclear crisis, and the international crisis of the Iranian regime, will continue even if an agreement is reached tomorrow. The continuous strike actions, protests, demonstrations, and sit-ins of different sectors of Iran’s society throughout the country have one undeniable and unmistakable message: The Iranian people do not trust the mullahs, and neither should the international community. There is just one way out from this impasse, and that is regime change by the people of Iran.