The interesting American position on the nuclear deal

The issue is no longer a blank check, as the mullahs had been thinking for months.Opinion.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi  ,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

Although the American position on the Iranian nuclear deal was subject to controversy during the inauguration of President Joe Biden, exchanges have picked up speed since January 20. The parties involved have started to clear up their positions, especially after new US Secretary of State Tony Blinken officially revealed the broad lines of a complete change in his country’s Middle East policy.

Blinken made it clear that expectations about a return to a nuclear agreement in the United States must be lowered, as President Biden had already announced during his campaign. His remarks are consistent with what previous articles have suggested. The return will not be as easy as some believe. There are strategic elements that could slow down the White House’s efforts for the expected return.

At his first press conference, a day after taking office, Blinken stated unambiguously that if Iran meets all its commitments up to the 2015 agreement, “the United States will do the same thing,” noting that Iran had stopped meeting its commitments on many fronts.

“It would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance in time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations. So we’re not - we’re not there yet to say the least.”

Judging from this statement, which reveals for the first time the focus of the Biden administration’s strategy to deal with this complex issue, it can be said that it basically reflects a good position. The Secretary of State has set clear criteria for a return to the nuclear agreement signed with Iran. The issue is no longer a blank check, as the mullahs had been thinking for months.

it could be very useful for the United States to move away from the “you first” formula that the mullahs are trying to impose on the agenda of discussions on their nuclear issue.
It has become clear that a return to the nuclear deal is not imminent. Sufficient time is needed to see the next step, for the simple reason that the mullahs are calling for a completely opposite approach. They demand, as announced, that the United States return to the nuclear agreement as the entry point for its compliance with its commitments under the accord.

My own understanding is of the mullahs’ demand is quite pliable and subject to change, provided that certain circumstances are available to save the Iranian regime’s face, so that it can reverse some of the violations committed in response to the harsh sanctions imposed by former President Trump since his withdrawal from the nuclear deal in mid-2018.

With the European side raising the possibility of negotiations with the United States on ways to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue, many alternatives are on the horizon, such as the simultaneous announcement by Iran and the US of a return to the agreement.

But Blinken’s language on the need to ensure that the mullahs’ regime fulfills its obligations under the nuclear agreement may reflect the difficulty of such a return and prevent its coming about.

Any unconditional return by the United States to the nuclear accord would be a major strategic mistake that could mark President Biden’s four-year term.

It would give the mullahs the mandate to continue to evade, manipulate and violate the terms of the existing nuclear agreement. Moreover, it would be difficult to convince or pressure them to submit their missile program and regional role to broader and more comprehensive negotiations that would include representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council states in order to find an integrated formula for regional security.

Therefore, it could be very useful for the United States to move away from the “you first” formula that the mullahs are trying to impose on the agenda of discussions on their nuclear issue.

I believe that the mullahs have deliberately violated the terms of the nuclear agreement in recent months to achieve this formula. The latter has guaranteed them a great political propaganda victory, important for a regime that has received strong blows over the past four years, has timidly tried to respond to some of them, and has simply reserved its right to respond to most of them without doing so for fear of the consequences of such a response.

Because the mullahs’ regime has recently stated that it will not hold its breath to see the United States return to the nuclear agreement, it is likely that it will again bet on marathon negotiations. That is what happened in the negotiations leading up to the 2015 agreement, where the Iranian negotiator showed a lot of patience and little transparency, after which it got what it wanted, pushing others to sign an agreement full of loopholes in the mullahs’ interest.

It would then be wise for all parties concerned to take stock of the current situation and develop clear and precise plans and objectives before determining the next step in this complex issue.

Dr. Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate