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Iran Nuclear Deal: Analysis from a Negotiations Perspective

In: Business and Management

Submitted By kghoang
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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iranian Nuclear Deal in vernacular, that was signed earlier this year is the culmination of a decades-long diplomatic arm wrestle between Iran and the United Nations. Iran, the European Union and the permanent members of the UN Security Council collectively referred to as P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany), reached a final agreement on July 14, 2015 in Vienna after many rounds of negotiations. The deal is meant to curb Iran's nuclear program, which has been a prolonged international safety concern, in return for incremental relief from the UN sanctions that have economically isolated Iran for years. The JCPOA requires that Iran cut its stock of enriched uranium by 98%, enrich uranium up to only 3.67%, and eliminate 2/3 of its current centrifuges. Iran cannot build new uranium-enrichment facilities, and nuclear activities will be restricted to one facility. Additionally, Iran has given the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) extensive access to its nuclear facilities for inspections. The physical requirements will last 15 years, while monitoring parameters will be in effect for 25 years. As Iran is confirmed to be in compliance with the deal, sanctions will be lifted and Iran will receive $100 billion of its frozen assets. Hassan Rouhani, the current Iranian president, and his administration hope the agreement will revitalize the country's economy. In exchange, the other parties predict that it will significantly limit Iran's potential to create a nuclear weapon.

Interestingly, Iran's nuclear capacity began in 1967 when the US helped build and supply the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). Today the TRR remains one of Iran's primary nuclear facilities. In 1970, 190 countries ratified the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), including Iran. The NPT enforces disarmament, nonproliferation of nuclear power with military dimensions, and peaceful use of nuclear energy among its members. In 1979 the Islamic Revolution occurred in Iran, and an Islamic Republic replaced the US-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi. The US stopped supplying TRR. Soon after, the government declared Iran a state of terrorist support, and the international community began to suspect Iran of developing nuclear weaponry. Because this would be a direct violation of NPT, the UN subjected Iran's enrichment facilities to IAEA inspection. Throughout the early 2000s tension increased between Iran and the IAEA, leading the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for failure to cooperate. In 2006, P5+1 proposed a resolution calling for Iran to halt enrichment. When Iran refused, they imposed economic sanctions to pressure Iran into talks. At this time the US had already declared its own sanctions; six years later the EU would follow with trade and banking bans, and an Iranian oil embargo. After being economically cut off from most of their main trading partners, Iran's economy suffered.

Between 2008 and 2012, P5+1 and Iran struggled to agree on a plan to handle Iran's nuclear program. In August 2013, Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated as Iran's new president. His campaign's platform was centered on improving the country's economy, and it prompted him to call for serious negotiations with P5+1. With a more cooperative negotiating partner compared to his predecessors, EU/P5+1 and Iran were able to reach a preliminary deal in 2013 called the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). Negotiators intended for the JPOA to be a six-month interim phase before a final comprehensive agreement, but extended it several times while talks continued. In March of 2015, while negotiations were ongoing, 47 US senators signed an open letter to Iran's Parliament expressing their opposition to the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also contested the deal, claiming that it did not adequately protect Israel from potential nuclear attacks. The global public, too, was divided on the issues. Despite some public and political disapproval, the parties finally reached a conclusive agreement in July 2015. In accordance to legislation previously passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, President Obama submitted the deal to congressional review. The 90-day review period expired without a resolution from Congress, however, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was finalized in September 2015.

Outside of the debate on nuclear development, EU/P5+1 and Iran shared strained diplomatic relationships for decades. Since the hostage crisis in 1979, when Iranian militants retained US citizens in the US embassy, the US has been hostile towards Iran. Illustratively, former President George W. Bush once declared Iran as part of the "axis of evil" in reference to its support for regional extremist groups. The US ally, Israel, is one of Iran's neighbors and arguably its biggest enemy. Meanwhile Iran's relationship with the UK has also been deteriorating throughout recent years. Disputes over the nuclear program, potential war strikes, and election controversy damaged their long-standing diplomacy. On the other hand, Russia maintains friendly ties with Iran. Russia is an important source of economic, military, and nuclear support for Iran. Because Russia is historically an adversary of the US and UK, this further increases tension between the two western countries and Iran.…...

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