Why US Left Iran Nuclear Deal – And The Aftermath

Why US Left Iran Nuclear Deal - And The Aftermath

Finally, after going through Iran’s nuclear enrichment restart and the Iran nuclear deal, let us look at the equations from 2018 onwards when Trump made the US pullout from the deal and the strain present in the Middle East since.

Crux of the Matter

Trump Campaign
Donald Trump was elected as the US President in 2016. He had criticized the nuclear deal in his campaign for being too ‘soft’ on Iran. On 8 May 2018, Trump pulled out the US from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

If you missed our coverage on Iran’s 2015 Nuclear Deal, read it here.

Other members did not leave and criticized the US for withdrawal.

Analysts claim that the withdrawal was part of Trump’s undermining of Obama’s decisions including the Iran deal, Paris Agreement, Obamacare, etc. The other major reasons cited are as follows:

Deadline For Restrictions In The Deal

  • Restrictions on centrifuges count (5,060 under the deal) valid only till 2025.
  • Restrictions on Uranium enrichment level (3.67% in the deal) valid only till 2030.
  • Trump and other Republicans claimed that Iran may covertly develop nuclear program enough to rapidly develop weapons once restrictions end.

Lack Of Coverage Of Iran’s ‘Other Activities’

  • Trump claimed that the deal did not cover Iran’s regional terrorism and missile programmes.
  • Iran backs Hamas, Hezbollah and others labelled ‘terrorist organizations’ by the US since long.
  • However, experts differ by claiming that the way forward was to build on the deal to cover other activities and not the withdrawal.

Role Of Middle-East Neighbours

  • US allies and Iran nemeses Israel and Saudi Arabia were against the deal.
  • Israel PM Netanyahu had called it a “bad mistake of historic proportions”.
  • Saudi initially backed the deal but believed to be covertly against it – openly lauded Trump’s withdrawal in 2018.

Middle-East Equations

  • Iran backs Hamas – Palestinian organization committed to ‘destruction of Israel’.
  • Israel, in turn, backs People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – organization against Islamic extremism in Iran.
  • Iran-Saudi conflict over respective sects of Shia and Sunni of Islam as well as Islamic world leadership.

Deterioration Of The Situation Afterwards

  • The US re-imposed heavy sanctions on Iran which weakened its economy.
  • May 2019: Oil tankers from Saudi Arabia, Norway and UAE attacked in the Gulf of Oman – US and Saudi blamed Iran blamed for the attacks.
  • 4 July: Gibraltar and British marines seized the oil tanker ‘Grace 1’ of Iran for transporting oil to Syria illegally – reportedly seized at US request.
  • 20 July: Iran seized the oil tanker ‘Stena Impero’ of Britain near Strait of Hormuz for ‘violating maritime rules’.
  • July 2019: Iran announced ‘breach’ of the 300 kg limit on Uranium.

Soleimani Assassination And ‘Brink Of War’

  • 2 January 2020: A US drone strike killed Iran military General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
  • 8 January: Iran launched rockets at the US bases in Iraq in retaliation – no casualties though.
  • The US and Iran were reportedly on the brink of war before the tension cooled off.

Iran Scientist Assassination

  • November 2020: Iran nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed – Iran blamed Israel.
  • Similar occurrences in 2010-12: 4 Iran nuclear scientists were killed.
  • Iran blames the killings on Israeli agency ‘Mossad’ (claim widely believed).
Curiopedia
  • The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
  • Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks

Iran Announces Restart Of Nuclear Enrichment

Iran Announces Restart Of Nuclear Enrichment

As Iran announced enrichment of Uranium to 20%, well above the level specified in a previous Nuclear agreement, let us take a look at the possible challenges posed for US President-elect Biden as well as the possible support or a lack of from his Iranian counterpart.

Crux of the Matter

Announcement
On 2 January 2021, Iran announced its plan to enrich uranium up to 20% “as soon as possible”. The announcement comes amidst the last weeks of US Presidency of Trump before Joe Biden takes over.

The announcement was made on the first death anniversary of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military General, who was killed by US drones on 2nd January 2020.

All Part Of The New Bill
Iran had passed the Bill on Nuclear enrichment in December 2020, aiming for enrichment to “pressure” Europe and the US to provide relief from sanctions. Iran had first informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspectors at the Nuclear plant. The Bill also allows Iran to “expel” those inspectors.

Previous Nuclear Deal

  • 20% enrichment of Uranium is 6 times the permissible level under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
  • The increased enrichment propels Iran near the level required for creating nuclear weapons.
  • Trump had withdrawn the US from the deal in 2018.
  • Several sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) and especially Trump under ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran.

The latest development has been cited by the US as Iran’s ploy to “intimidate” the world by its nuclear program. However, experts differ by labelling it as Iran’s way of pressurizing the upcoming US President Biden to restart the 2015 deal.

Possible Talks Between Biden And Rouhani?

  • Biden had claimed in his election manifesto to “re-enter” the deal and “extend” it to control “Iran’s other destabilizing activities”.
  • Also warned that the US rejoining the nuclear deal would be subject to “strict compliance” from Iran.
  • Iran President Hassan Rouhani has claimed to return to compliance with the deal “within an hour” of the US returning to it.
  • Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly warned to not “trust” the US. However, he is believed to be supporting the revival privately though.

Read more about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal here: Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Curiopedia
  • The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
  • Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks

Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

With Iran announcing enrichment of Uranium to 20%, let us look at the historic Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015, its specifics, and its impact on the Middle-East as well as Europe and the US.

Crux of the Matter

2015 Agreement
On 14 July 2015, the Nuclear deal with Iran was signed. The full name of the deal is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It was signed by the P5+1 (permanent UNSC members + Germany).

Meaning:
US, UK, China, Russia, France, and Germany signed a deal with Iran. The agreement has been cited as a major achievement of the Obama Presidency in the US (Biden was Vice President then).

Aim

  • To limit Iran’s nuclear development to ‘peaceful’ energy use only.
  • Achieved by signing an agreement in exchange for removing several sanctions.
  • US, EU and UN had imposed heavy restrictions on Iran for its nuclear programme prior to the deal.

Specifics For Iran

  • 20,000 centrifuges to be reduced to 5,060.
    Centrifuges are devices used for enriching the usable Uranium.
  • 98% reduction in the stock of Uranium to bring it down to 300kg.
  • 3.67% is the specified maximum level of enrichment of the stock.
  • Redesign Heavy-Water reactor to not produce ‘weapon-grade plutonium’ fit for a nuclear weapon.
  • Required to adhere to any International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection request within 24 days window.

Impact
As per US experts in 2015:

  • Iran was capable of having 90% enriched Uranium to build Nuclear weapon within 2-3 months with stock prior to the Agreement.
  • Agreement measures increased that time to 1 year or more.

Result Of The 2015 Deal

  • Iranian overseas assets worth $100 billion unfrozen.
  • Sanctions from the US, UK, and the UN lifted.
  • The sanctions had made Iran lose oil revenue of $160 billion between 2012 and 2016 alone.
  • Iran’s oil and other global businesses kick-started with the signing of the Agreement.

No credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

IAEA December 2015 Report
Curiopedia
  • The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
  • Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks

US’ Iran Nuclear Sanctions Extended

Sanctions on Iran by the US were renewed for 60 days by the Trump administration as both the countries fight the wrath of the pandemic Coronavirus. Iran has accused US of ‘medical terror’ at a time when Iran is dealing with health crisis.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Max Pressure Campaign
On 30th March 2020, the US renewed sanctions on Iran for 60 more days as the Islamic Republic battles COVID-19. The superpower has imposed 4 sanctions that tighten the pressure on Iran to stop developing nuclear armaments. However, this will allow non-proliferation activities to continue at Bushehr nuclear power plant, Arak research reactor, and Tehran Research reactor. The sanctions, which are also renewable after 60 days, allow Russian, Chinese and European companies to work on Iran’s civilian nuclear facilities without attracting any penalties from the US.

US is renewing four nuclear restrictions on Iran for an additional 60 days. We’ll closely monitor developments in Iran’s nuclear program and can adjust these restrictions at any time. As President Trump said, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

Morgan Ortagus, Spokesperson, US State Department

Special Coverage: US-Iran: New Decade Starts With Rekindling Old Rivalry

Rewind Time
In 2015, Iran and the P5+1 nations (US, UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany) agreed upon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran agreed to curb nuclear capabilities and allowed UN’s nuclear facility checks at any time. On the other hand, the Obama-led US lifted economic and other sanctions on Iran. In 2018, the Trump administration pulled out of the JCPOA and reinstated the economic sanctions on Iran. US sanctions mean that any country that trades with Iran will also be put under trade ban and other bans by the US. However, India is exempt from US sanctions on Iran for the construction of the Chabahar port.

Why is it a Heated Topic Today?
Both the nations are hotspots for Coronavirus. US has over 2 lakh cases whereas Iran is nearing 50,000. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that this was not a time for political war and accused US of “medical terror”. Iran accuses US sanctions for its current situation with the pandemic. US State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus defended US action by saying that it is not the sanctions but the regime that has put Iranians in this situation.

US sanctions have made the import and export of medical or any other goods or services more expensive and time-consuming. China, Britain, Germany, France, and the European Union came to assist Iran by providing cash, medical equipment, protective suits, gloves, masks, etc.

Curiopedia

Iran and the United States have had no formal diplomatic relations since 1980. Pakistan serves as Iran’s protecting power in the United States, while Switzerland serves as the United States’ protecting power in Iran. Contacts are carried out through the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., and the US Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. As of 2018, Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei banned direct talks with the United States. More Info

US-Iran: New Decade Starts with Rekindling Old Rivalry

US-Iran relations have once again spiked up with USA retaliating by killing one of the world’s most powerful people, Iran’s General Q. Soleimani. With USA holding ‘Trump’ cards on matters like trade, oil, militancy, its outlook of strongarming global opponents is quite familiar. On the other hand, protest-hit Iran has continued its Uranium enrichment activities beyond limits.

Crux of the Matter

A Bumpy Ride: US-Iran Ties
Tracing back the ties between America and Iran, the heat of the moment does give nostalgia about how both the countries play the game. For USA, around World War II, Iran became the focal point in the Middle East because it bordered the Soviet Union.

The beginning of the end of good ties with the Shah of Iran started
deteriorating when, allegedly, US and UK drove out the then Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 as he wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil sector. A covert operation was carried out through spreading apprehension among Iranians regarding the economic situation and internal conflicts. This is something that Iran has witnessed in recent. The 2019 Protests saw masses coming out to protest the economic gap and dilapidated living conditions of many.

Modern World Outlook
America’s policy toward Iran seems ambiguous after the 1953 coup. With Iran gaining weight in the geopolitical spectrum with an increase in oil supplies, the common belief that America puppeteered Iran started disintegrating. The 1979 Revolution of Iran gained traction on the grounds that Shah of Iran, Mohd. Reza Pahlavi was trying to conspire against the state. This lead to the hostage crisis, in which Iranian protestors seized US Embassy in Tehran and held hostages for 444 days. Thereafter, US imposed heavy sanctions on Iran, hurting Iran’s economic front.

Iran-Iraq-USA – A Two-on-One Handicapped Match
Iran-backed Hezbollah‘s attack on American sites and America’s retaliation in Iran-Iraq war by bombing the Sassan oil platform to neutralize Iran have added to the deterioration of the ties of US-Iran. The world condemned American strike on Iranian Airbus that killed 290 civilians. America blocked the economic growth of Iran through the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act that prohibited countries from making heavy investments in Iran.

America regarded Iran as one of the countries that were the ‘axis of evil‘. Since then, Iran accused USA of trespassing into Iranian territory by frequently sending drones to capture the nuclear development of Iran. USA has been accusing Iran of providing financial and logistical support to the Hezbollah group. In 2007, US raided the Consulate of Iran and captured several Iranian diplomats and citizens for examination of potential threat.

During Obama Reign
The Strait of Hormuz has been the pivotal point during Obama‘s leadership. Entry of US drones in the sovereign area of Iran, and Iran retaliating with firing in the Persian Gulf had escalated tensions in 2011 and 2012. Iran’s Navy Chief had threated to close the Persian Gulf. In 2019, Iran shot down American Military Surveillance drone and accused US of flying in the sovereign air space. US contended the claim.

However, diplomatic ties during the Obama period began to improve. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif began constructive conversations with American diplomats.

Iran Facing Trumpism
Donald Trump banned the entry of citizens of Iran and several other countries to protect America from terrorism. Trump also withdrew USA from Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Once again, Iran intimidated to block Strait of Hormuz. USA accused Iran of bombing Aramco’s fields. It decided to send troops and drones to secure the area. USA and Trump administration were most furious about Iran-backed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) support to militant activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2019, USA threatened to issue sanctions against any country that bought oil from Iran. US started deploying its military in the Gulf region as a recourse action plan in case Iran attacks American troops, diplomats or citizens. In June 2019, Iran once again shot down one of the USA’s Military Drones on the ground that it was violating airspace. USA continued to issue strict sanctions and deployed warfare military in Qatar. Kataib Hezbollah (KH) had attacked American military facilities and injured several military personal. In retaliation, USA bombed weapon storage sites of KH in Iraq and Syria.

USA carried out an airstrike at Baghdad Airport and killed Iran’s one of the most powerful men, Qaseem Soleimani. Iran has raised red flag and vowed severe revenge. The current spike in the ties has world countries on its toes.

Nuclear Nagging and Iran
By providing Nuclear reactor, USA supported Iran’s first Nuclear program in 1957. In 2003, USA had accused Iran of using Uraniam enrichment program to develop Nuclear weapons. As per the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), USA and many countries violated the treaty by not disarming to the extent. Whereas Iran violated the terms for inadequate reporting of nuclear material, its use, and processing.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by Iran and the P5+1 country members. It would lift sanctions off of Iran and in return, Iran shall curb its nuclear capacity and allow UN to carry out Nuclear Facility checks in Iran. The deal was also expected to boost Iran’s economy. In 2018, Trump decided to withdraw from the JCPOA and reimpose economic sanctions.

Iran Engulfed in Protests
November 2019 witnessed Iranians protesting against the excessive petrol prices. The economic disparity in the nation had flamed the protests furthermore. Some experts account Iran’s economic dilapidation to US and other economic sanctions. However, Iranian authorities were brutal on protestors. Around 1,500 protestors died during the protests.

The small retaliatory efforts of Iran – whether to drive out American troops or to strong-arm America for oil deals, nuclear treaties, or economic support – have been met with American boulder rocks like drone attacks.

Curiopedia

Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA) is an Act to impose sanctions on persons making certain investments directly and significantly contributing to the enhancement of the ability of Iran or Libya to develop its petroleum resources, and on persons exporting certain items that enhance Libya’s weapons or aviation capabilities or enhance Libya’s ability to develop its petroleum resources, and for other purposes. More Info

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) together with the European Union. Under the deal, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. On 8 May 2018 the United States officially withdrew from the agreement after Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering the reinstatement of harsher sanctions. More Info