Resuming the agreement to halt the manufacture of nuclear weapons will only have favorable consequences.
The details aren’t final yet, but the second agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear program is ready to sign. With it, the U.S. rectifies Donald Trump’s catastrophic withdrawal from the pact in 2018, which immediately allowed the Islamic Republic to stand on the threshold of obtaining the bomb, likely being just six months from becoming a new nuclear power. In 2015, the five permanent members of the Security Council and the EU froze the Iranian uranium enrichment program. From that point, it was subject to a strict regime of international inspections in exchange for lifting European and American sanctions on the radical Shiite dictatorship. That agreement, laboriously obtained after many years, can be revoked by a president, as Trump did during his term.
Guaranteeing the agreement will continue is the last remaining stumbling block for the Iranians who, between 2015 and 2018, enjoyed an economy without sanctions. Iran is now demanding safeguards against any future cancellation that could be driven by the vagaries of U.S. elections. Iran’s demand that the U.S. remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the list of terrorist organizations has disappeared, precisely at a moment when arguments for keeping it on this international blacklist have grown. Washington is investigating a plot to assassinate former National Security Advisor John Bolton on behalf of a member of the Iranian military corps, apparently in revenge for the assassination of its top commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
There is no shortage of people on both sides of the negotiation who are ready to boycott the agreement. French expert Gilles Kepel didn’t hesitate to attribute the attempted assassination of Salman Rushdie by a Shiite citizen of Lebanese origin to what is known as “atmospheric jihadism,” in which apparently isolated individuals act on the basis of an aggressive culture spread by social networks, which in this case would correspond to Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian party in Lebanon. Although the attack on the writer does not correspond to any premeditated plan, it fits perfectly with the celebration by Iranian media and with the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s reaffirmation of Khomeini’s fatwa.
Despite the difficulties, there are many additional reasons in favor of completing negotiations as soon as possible. For Iran, it would ease the economic burden on its population, which has a lost a third of its income over the past decade. For the stability of the region and purposes of non-proliferation, it is also urgent to stop a nuclear program that is dangerously approaching un irreversible point of construction. For Ukraine’s allies, an agreement would prevent the consolidation of the bloc of anti-Western countries around Russia.
For the global economy, the entry of Iranian oil into the market would ease the strain on prices. Successful negotiations with China and Russia would send a message of détente in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis and tension in the Taiwan Strait. Failure, on the other hand, would immediately become an opportunity for those in Israel and Saudi Arabia who advocate a military solution to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program. Only those who trust in the path of confrontation — even war — and reject diplomacy and multilateralism, will cheer derailing the pact.