COVID-19 and Iran Foreign Policy on the Future of the JCPOA

What is the JCPOA?


The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, is a joint agreement between the United States, the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia — with Iran. 

The agreement sets out guidelines for Iran’s nuclear program, in return for the lifting of large-scale sanctions that were crippling the Iranian economy. In return, the other countries would be reassured that Iran wasn’t developing the capabilities to create a nuclear weapon.

The Iran Nuclear Deal was one of Barak Obama’s signature policies, which he signed in 2015. However, the agreement has been riddled with problems, and under the new presidency of Donald Trump, the US withdrew from the agreement.


The US Pulls Out of the Agreement


In May 2018, President Trump made good on his election promise and pulled the United States out of the JCPOA. Trump insisted the deal was a bad one for the States and reinstalled sanctions on Iran. 

Although the agreement still exists — since all the other signatories are still signed up to the agreement — the US’s withdrawal has led Iran to continually exceed its uranium enrichment limits, essentially rendering the agreement useless. 

However, the other signatories have not given up on the deal, with Germany and France invoking a clause that calls for conflict resolution.

While this has been playing out, evidence has suggested that Iran wasn’t fully compliant with the agreement from the beginning, and therefore, questions have to be asked about the effectiveness of the agreement in the first place. 

With other sources questioning whether Iran was honest about its nuclear ambitions, Trump’s policy of pulling out of the agreement with a view to renegotiating a stronger agreement could turn out to be solid foreign policy. 


Why Did the US Pull Out?


Not only were there doubts about whether Iran was complying with the requirements of the agreement, but there were also conflicts in other areas of foreign policy. Tensions were high between the two countries over the Civil War in Syria, where Iran was seen as meddling in the area and funding proxy terrorist groups. 

Relations hit a low ebb in 2020 when Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike. Iran retaliated by targeting US troops with ballistic missiles. 

Meanwhile, strong economic sanctions have been taking hold on the Iranian economy, but Iran has continued to enrich uranium to the point where it is believed they are about a year away from a nuclear weapon.  Even though Iran is being hit by pressure from the Corona Virus, the U.S. should not assist Iran, other than to disarm.


What Happens Now?


The Iran Nuclear Agreement might not be the first thing on people’s minds at the moment, but you can be assured it will still be a key issue in the White House. For a myriad of reasons, the JCPOA isn’t effectively deterring Iran from creating nuclear weapons, and the Trump administration will be carefully planning its next step. 

Trump stated his wish to renegotiate the deal in his election campaign and that’s something that is still possible. The Iranian economy is struggling with the impact of economic sanctions, and Trump might use this to renegotiate a better deal that can manage Iranian nuclear ambitions. 


What Next?

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