by Zahra Khezri

P4+1, EU would try to do their best to keep JCPOA alive: CARPO chief

September 25, 2017

Approving Iran as being non-compliant is U.S. difficult task

TEHRAN - Adnan Tabatabai, an analyst based in Germany who is the CEO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, is of the opinion that even if the United States quits the nuclear deal with Iran, other signatories will “do their best” to keep the agreement “alive”.

The nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was clinched between Iran, the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) and the European Union in July 2015. According to the JCPOA, which went into effect in January 2016, Iran agreed to put limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for termination of economic and financial sanctions. However, Donald Trump, who is bent to roll back Barack Obama’s signature achievements, is inventing excuses to withdraw Washington from the international agreement backed by the UN Security Council.    

“My sense now is that the P4+1 and the EU would try to do their best to achieve that.” CARPO chief tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

“It appears very difficult for the U.S. administration to politicize intelligence (on Iran’s nuclear program) to an extent that they can present Iran as being non-compliant.”

What follows is the text of the interview:

Q: After the inflammatory speech of the U.S. president[as1] against Iran, including his attack on the nuclear deal, at the UN General Assembly, is there an expectation of rising tension between Tehran and Washington?

 A: The rhetoric between Tehran and Washington DC has already reached a new peak. I do not think the UNGA speech by Donald Trump has raised the bar significantly higher. President Rouhani, while strongly dismissing the remarks made by Trump, did not choose similar rhetoric. When looking at international reactions to both speeches we can certainly see Rouhani as being the one speaker who certainly was more convincing to the global audience. This does not necessarily mean the international community agrees with everything Rouhani said. But at least he appeared to be the more reasonable leader.

 Q: The UN’s nuclear watchdog has been repeatedly confirming that Iran is loyal to its commitments under the nuclear deal, however the Trump administration is creating commotions about Iran. What are the motives behind such moves?

 A: The roots of the hostility towards Iran brought forward by the White House and other members of this U.S. administration are threefold. First, the do all remember the humiliation of U.S. diplomats right after the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days. Secondly, they blame the death of colleagues and comrades at the Beirut bombing in the early 1980s. Thirdly, they accuse Iranian backed forces to be responsible for the death of hundreds of U.S. troops in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion 2003. We may challenge these viewpoints, but it is apparent that these viewpoints are the drivers of anti-Iran sentiments in strategists of the U.S. policy towards Iran. This is the very reason why Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement is not appreciated in Washington. They do not want to see Iran doing anything right.

Q: Doesn’t this show that the U.S. is intentionally undermining the UN body as the only organization technically authorized to make comments on a country’s nuclear program?

A: The U.S. is indeed putting the authority of the IAEA in question - at least when we listen to the rhetoric of the White House or the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. At the same time, not serious action has been taken yet. Even during her visit to the IAEA, Nikki Haley didn't go beyond statements and remarks. She did reportedly not hand in any form of evidence to challenge the IAEA's reports. Hence, there is no substantial undermining happening - it's so far only rhetoric.

 “Given all the remarks from European countries to the EU, to Russia and China and Iran, I believe the deal will be safeguarded ultimately.”

Q: In your opinion, what will happen if Trump withdraws the U.S. from the nuclear deal?

 A: Let me first say, that I still believe he won't walk away from the deal. Despite his rhetoric he has once again signed waivers for nuclear-related sanctions, as the U.S. is obliged to do under the agreement. I believe, if he was to leave the deal, he wouldn't talk about it so much. Should Trump leave, however, I believe the other parties of the agreement will have a more difficult task in keeping the JCPOA alive in a P4+1 setting with Iran. But given all the remarks from European countries to the EU, to Russia and China and Iran, I believe the deal will be safeguarded ultimately. What needs to be assured is that Tehran feels it is benefiting economically and politically from the agreement. My sense now is that the P4+1 and the EU would try to do their best to achieve that.

Q: Do you think some signatories to the deal will follow suit if the U.S. quits the deal?

 A: At this point, I do not see any country following the path potentially laid out by the White House. Iran would probably quit at some point if its benefits of the deal are significantly undermined through a U.S. withdrawal. This will depend on the willingness of all parties to make
sure this deal remains beneficial for all sides - even minus the United States.

Q: Given the fast approaching Oct. 15 deadline, the date that Trump has vowed to decertify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, don’t you think Trump’s advisors are resorting to bogus intelligence to justify withdrawal from the deal?

 A: It appears very difficult for the U.S. administration to politicize intelligence to an extent that they can present Iran as being non-compliant. Apart from all parties of the agreement and the IAEA, even U.S. security agencies - or the so-called deep state - are saying Iran is in compliance. The White House therefore appears to be quite isolated on this issue which makes it difficult to come up with a scenario in which Iran is not in compliance.

 “Apart from all parties of the agreement and the IAEA, even U.S. security agencies - or the so-called deep state - are saying Iran is in compliance.”

Q: Why do Trump and his inner circle are ignoring insistence by United States’ European allies that Washington should stay in the deal? Does this show that Trump is intransigent and alien to the modern world?

 A: The U.S. has shifted to a unilateral approach in foreign policy. “America first” does not allow U.S. policy to be shaped by Europeans or other allies. When listening carefully, one can furthermore detect an explicit disregard for the European Union in the inner circles of the White House. We should therefore be not surprised if not much value is granted to viewpoints from Europe.

 Q: Will the U.S. achieve anything if it leaves the deal?

 A: The U.S. administration may achieve to save its face. Trump has promised to radically change and reverse Obama policies. Leaving the JCPOA, leaving the Paris accord, ending DACA, and challenging Obamacare are all measures against a certain policy conduct in the United States. So, Trump may benefit domestically by showing his voter base he is a man of action. Strategically, I do not really see a benefit for the United States other than having undertaken a policy decision that may end up being to the detriment of Iran - at least in their view.

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