Nuclear Deal Talks
The potential revival of the Iran nuclear deal is once again in the news but the points of contention remain the same after all these months. It is important to point out that talks have been on hold since March due to Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. list of designated terrorist organisations.
Recently however, there has been another renewed push to salvage the deal as the EU took a trip to Iran to discuss the contours of the deal. Earlier this Friday, the EU gave an upbeat assessment of its visit and stated that it had breathed fresh life into the talks. However, the core issue remains that both the US and Iran have put the onus on the other to compromise and there is no set date for talks to resume between the parties. Washington does not share the EU’s optimism about the revival of the deal as the State Department has stated that a deal remains far from certain, and that Tehran will have to decide whether it wants to contest extraneous conditions or conclude a deal swiftly as time is running out.
Many have pointed out time and again that perhaps the onus to compromise is on the US this time around. The listing of the IRGC was done under the Trump administration as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign that caused relations to stoop to an all-time low.
Given how critical the democratic establishment was of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, and in particular the scrapping of the nuclear deal, one wonders why President Biden would not want to swiftly undo the damage. There is precedent for undoing such measures as well considering how the Houthis in Yemen were removed from the FTO. The main issue at play however is domestic considerations more than external ones, and how this could be a politically costly decision for the Biden administration that is already under fire from hawkish members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Also, as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pointed out last month, the blacklisting of the IRGC has a minimal impact on the organisation.
Tehran is unlikely to budge as under no circumstances would it be okay with an organ of the state being labelled a terrorist entity. There are domestic concerns for Iran as well and it will be hard for the negotiators to offer any concessions to the US. Additionally, the listing of the IRGC does put its members at risk as it gives the US a cover to conduct operations against senior members, and also impacts the economic interests of hundreds of companies that have ties to the IRGC. If the US really wants to turn the page with Iran and move away from the policies of maximum pressure, it will have to compromise on issues that are so sensitive to the other party. Perhaps these extraneous conditions can be worked out in future talks once the main aim of curbing nuclear proliferation is achieved.