Will the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action survive US ratification? Could this agreement lead to a new role for Iran and serve as a stabilizing factor for the region?

The agreement between Iran and the ‘5 + 1’ group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) has been signed.

This seems to be good news for all parties involved for the following reasons: First, the economic sanctions against Iran will be lifted gradually. Second, the break-out options of a nuclear bomb for   Iran will be reduced. Third, western and Russian economic cooperation with Iran now has the ability to blossom. And lastly, some people are now able to visualize potential for a more moderate influence by Iran in the neighborhood of MENA.

BUT, it is not quite clear if the agreement will actually be ratified. In Iran the highest leader Khamenei has verbalized some critical remarks, but he seems to be in overall support of the agreement.

The Israeli government is openly ranting about their unwillingness to form any agreement with Iran, just as they have in the past. The most difficult impediment the final ratification is facing is coming from Washington. Congress is very skeptical, and may try to de-rail this agreement after all.

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  1. Alexei Voskressenski 2 years ago

    Whatever skeptical we may be, the agreement with Iran is important because it gives us a hope of resolving challenges arising from the Middle Eastern conundrum especially in view of Mullah Omar death and the further possible strengthening of ISIS. Iran indeed as many argues may be an important new regional actor for moving the region for a better political and economic future. At least senior Singaporean diplomats and politicians as well as some Russian and Chinese diplomats and politicians argue for this option crediting Iranian leadership new constructive stance. It is also clear that President Obama and some senior European diplomats and politicians invested a lot in favor of this deal. We need now clear signs of new constructive efforts for resolving modern geopolitical deadlocks. If the Action plan is subverted before having a chance of being implemented 1) the chance of reducing possible Iranian nuclear threat is lost 2) those who a priori deny such a possibility will be responsible for loosing a chance not even trying this new geopolitical possibility.

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  2. Andrey Makarychev 2 years ago

    To me, the most interesting part of the Iran story is Russia’s constructive engagement with Western powers on this issue, which of course didn’t remain unnoticed. There are, in my view, two reasons of why Russia cooperated, in spite of uncertainties over the question of whether full-fledged reconnection of Iran to the international society would be beneficial for Russia in terms of its energy strategy and regional policy in the Caucasus. First, Moscow understands that the negotiation over Iran is one of few remaining international platforms that connects Russia with the major Western actors. Thus, Russia does understands the dangers of complete diplomatic isolation that is not only hypothetical. Second, the Kremlin wished to publicly demonstrate that sanctions don’t work as an international policy instrument and ultimately have to be lifted, which is an argument that Russia tries to communicate to the West.

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  3. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou 2 years ago

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal is a game changer. It fundamentally influences the regional and global security and business agenda. This is primarily due to the fact that Iran’s deal with the P5 + 1 countries legitimizes Iran’s position as a status quo regional power of considerable influence.
    The fact that Iran possesses the world’s 4th oil reserves and 2nd largest gas reserves, suggests much about its potential. In fact, its estimated 157.8 billion barrels in oil reserves are enough to supply China for over 40 years. With the Middle East’s second largest population after Egypt, Iran has a GDP of $366 billion which is 20% smaller than it would have been without sanctions. Iran also has an industrial base which makes it a global producer of autos, cement, and steel. Although, the business climate is still uncertain and is predicated upon whether Iran will stick to the terms of the deal, European countries have been rushing to establish the groundwork for future deals. Although, US firms have been taking a more cautious approach due to the fact that Iran remains on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, over time, American firms will also stand to gain as the restrictions on the shipment of goods and services will be loosened if not lifted. On the other hand, Russian business would profit as Russian energy firms would enter the Iranian market and the Russian arms industry stands to profit as Iran would use some of its incoming oil and gas profits to modernize its armed forces.
    Strategically, the Iran deal might ‘liberate’ the Iranian regime in further sponsoring Shiite proxy organizations in the Middle East to do its bidding as well as to engage in an anti-Israel strategy, but the potential of Iran being a stabilizer is also there. In fact, with the deal, the United States seems to revert to the adoption of the twin pillar strategy of the 1970s, otherwise known as the Nixon doctrine, which purported to strengthen both Saudi Arabia and Iran as competing local powers to fight the spread of Soviet influence. While that policy failed in 1979 with the advent of the Iranian revolution, it makes sense today as the Soviet threat has been replaced by the threat posed by a powerful non state actor such as the Islamic State. It also enhances Iran’s status as a status quo power that might be might not be as threatening to Israel as it is today. It allows both Saudi Arabia and Iran to corner the oil market and potentially lead to reduced energy costs worldwide while also influencing Russia’s behavior on the global arena towards a more cooperative one as its image has been much improved due to its constructive role during the negotiations.
    The deal also brings to the fore the question of how to approach the Syrian conundrum where Assad might be holding on more tenuously than in the past and his hold on power even after a halting or slowing down of the Islamic State might be slipping as Russia and Iran might have to reconsider whether to continue supporting his regime.
    Finally the deal, with its potential for the greater economic and political opening of Iran, would allow over time the emergence of more moderate political and societal forces within Iran than its current leadership and would further tilt the balance of Iran towards the West and a more open and integrated Iran that would reconsider its sponsorship of terrorist and other organizations in the region.
    For all of the above to happen, the deal has to clear the major immediate hurdle called the US Senate where a hard battle is being fought for its ratification. The fact that the 2016 presidential campaign has begun complicates the process as many senators vying for the presidency have to account whether support for the deal strengthens their chance in the primary process or undercuts it. Yet, all the other abovementioned reasons as to the potential of the deal suggest that its benefits (including that of Iran as a prospective agent of regional stability and the division over it among American Jews) will override the many hurdles on the road to ratification.

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  4. Shen Dingli 2 years ago

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is not perfect, but is the best it can be given all the constraints. With the unfinished anti-terror war in Afghanistan and military return to Iraq, the US is reluctant to stop Iran’s nuclear quest by using force. Iran has also been quite affected by the US and EU sanctions, along with various UNSC imposed sanctions. Therefore a compromise has been attained through negotiation to much reduce the scale of Iranian nuclear program without being able to stop it thoroughly, thus inviting serious debate as to its eventual impact on regional stability in the MENA area.

    This raises the issue of ratification by at least the US and Iran. Despite its domestic barrier, Iran is very likely to approve JCPOA as long as the US does. However, some Republican members of the US Senate have vowed to stop it, forcing the White House, which is working hard to lobby the Congress, for a pragmatic approach. President Obama’s argument has been that were the JCPOA not approved by the US, Iran would not do it either, leaving only the military option to address this issue. Actually the troubling point is not just ratifying the JCPOA, but to end existing US laws which imposed sanctions on Iran. If these sanctions are not lifted, Iran would not proceed with implementing its part of the commitment to JCPOA. Therefore, at this time it is indeed uncertain as to the domestic acceptability of the Joint Comprehensive Plan. Obama’s legacy remains with his ability to convince the congress that his plan is better than to do nothing.

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