Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who has been elected as the next president, has indicated his intention to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (also known as the Iran nuclear deal). Although negotiations appear to be difficult, they must not result in a careless compromise.
The Iran nuclear deal was spearheaded by former U.S. President Barack Obama, and was signed in 2015 by Iran and six other countries (the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China). The deal prevented Iran’s impending progress on nuclear weapons development and curtailed a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
However, in 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration took the stance that the plan to limit Iran’s nuclear development and gradually lift sanctions was full of weaknesses, and thus withdrew the United States from the agreement, instead reinstating sanctions against Iran.
Although it sought a new a new agreement, the Trump administration failed to achieve one, and bears heavy responsibility for the existing situation. Iran has raised its uranium enrichment levels and has gradually deviated from its obligations in the agreement; as a result, tensions have increased.
On the other hand, the intention behind the Trump administration’s objection to the plan is understandable. The international community is facing a nuclear threat in North Korea. The world must show a strong stance and take strict action against any defiance of current nuclear nonproliferation measures.
The Trump administration demanded that Iran halt its development of ballistic missiles and support for armed organizations in neighboring countries, some of the weakness that the administration identified in the original nuclear deal.
As part of the conditions for returning to the nuclear deal, Biden is calling for stricter fulfillment of Iran’s obligations in the deal, but that condition is not enough. The issues that the Trump administration raised must not be ignored.
Iran’s support for armed insurgents in neighboring countries is a contributing factor to instability in the Middle East. Whether or not the nuclear deal framework is used, Iran and the international community need a proper forum in which to discuss this issue. A compromise in the U.S. return to the deal will only postpone any resolution to the problem.
Iran asserts that the U.S. will fulfill its obligations under the agreement if it returns to the previous nuclear deal and provides compensation for losses due to sanctions. Negotiating a return to the agreement will likely be difficult from the start.
Some believe that Israel, which seeks to stop the U.S. from returning to the nuclear deal, had a hand in assassinating an Iranian nuclear scientist in a suburb of Tehran late last month as part of a scheme to provoke Iran. It should be noted that a U.S. return to the agreement itself could be a source of contention in the Middle East.
Japan depends on the Middle East for 80% of its crude oil, so easing tensions in the area would be in its best national interest. Bearing North Korea in mind, we would like to see mediation between the U.S. and Iran, while adhering to a strict position against efforts to develop nuclear weapons.