Government

Will Biden Join the Iran Nuclear Deal?

EST. READING TIME ~ 5 MINUTES

Questions that are answered in this post (4 – min read)

  1. What is the Iran Nuclear Deal?
  2. What happened to the deal?
  3. What do Republicans and Democrats think about the deal, then and now?
  4. Will President Biden join this Nuclear Deal?

1: What is the Iran Nuclear Deal?

When Iran announced the existence of their nuclear program, America and many powerful European nations placed oil sanctions on the nation in order to force the nation to shut it down. Finally, after many years of negotiations, the P5+1 nations (namely, the US, the UK, China, Russia, France, and Germany) reached a compromise with Iran, called the Iran Nuclear Deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Per the agreement,  Iran agreed to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and give full visibility into the country’s nuclear program to inspectors from these countries in exchange for the P5+1 nations agreeing to lift some sanctions on Iran. This would free up tens of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets and oil reserves, and it came at a time much needed for Iran, for it was suffering from a severe economic downturn because of the oil sanctions. 

Representatives from each of the P5+1 nations and Iran announce the framework for the Iran Nuclear Deal in Lausanne
Reuters

2: What happened to the Iran Nuclear Deal? 

The key dates in the progression of this deal and its subsequent fallout are below: 

October 18, 2015: After two years of negotiating, Iran and the P5+1 nations formally adopt the JCPOA. America approved the deal through an executive order by Democratic President Barack Obama. An executive order is backed by solely the President’s authority, and it completely avoids approval from both the House and Senate. At the time, Obama didn’t have a choice but to do this if he wanted the deal to pass – Republicans were staunchly in opposition to the JCPOA and controlled both chambers of Congress. However, his choice spelled the end of the deal a few years later. 

May 8, 2018: President Trump, using the same presidential authority as Obama, rescinded the order without the approval of Congress.  He stated that “We cannot prevent an Iranian bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.” Instead, he placed sanctions on Iran. The first step in Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign was to subdue Iran’s economy and force them to consider a new nuclear deal that addressed security issues beyond Iran’s nuclear program. Although America pulled out of the deal, the rest of the P5+1 nations and Iran stayed. Even so, Iran knew the deal’s economic benefits were much smaller without America, the world’s largest economy. 

November 5, 2018: President Trump reinforced his policy of ‘maximum pressure’ on Iran by increasing the heavy sanctions on its oil exports, the backbone of its economy, along with its banking, shipping, and ship-building sectors. He and his team believed the move would finally force Iran to consider a new deal. 

President Trump displays a document placing sanctions on Iran

September 5, 2019: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran has begun nuclear weapons research and development again. This is Iran’s third breach of the JCPOA, along with violating the maximum requirement of uranium reserves and advancing their centrifuges

January 3, 2020: An air strike ordered by President Trump attacked Baghdad Airport and killed General Qasem Soleimani, a popular figure in Iran. 

January 5, 2020: Iran announced that it has broken all parts of the JCPOA. However, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif reiterates that their violations are remedial, meaning that all of Iran’s violations are “reversible upon effective implementation of reciprocal obligations” under the JCPOA. 

A graph showing fluctuations in Iran’s GDP due to the JCPOA and its repeal (IMF)

3: What do Republicans and Democrats think about the Iran Nuclear Deal, then and now?

As mentioned earlier, Republicans rejected the deal and Democrats, namely Obama, supported it. But why were these divisions present in the first place?

Republicans: Republicans legislators have stayed consistent in their opposition to the deal. They believe, similar to Trump’s views, that it is not a proper long-term solution and doesn’t address enough concerns regarding Iran. Some parts of the deal do expire by 2030 or before then. By 2025, Iran would be able to start building more efficient centrifuges and restart Research & Development regarding centrifuges, and by 2030, start building more centrifuges. 

Republicans also want to draft additions to the deal that address concerns related to Iran’s ballistic missiles program and its aggressive military operations in multiple parts of the Middle East, such as Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.  

Democrats: Democrats argue that as long as the supply of uranium is kept in check by inspectors, the Iranians will never have enough to make a bomb. The deal takes away 97% of Iran’s uranium, and the nation is allotted only 300 kg in uranium, which is well below the amount necessary for a bomb. In their eyes, Iranian involvement in the Middle East is a separate issue that needs a separate solution.

4: Will President Biden Re-Join This Nuclear Deal?

Definitely. He has stated his support for the Iranian Nuclear Deal early in his candidacy, and it remains one of his core foreign policies. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already called on President Biden to have American rejoin the deal. 

Rouhani called on Biden in a speech last Wednesday, on January 20 (Atta Kenare / AFP – Getty Images)

TL;DR

  • The 2015 Iranian Nuclear Deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is a culmination of diplomatic efforts between the P5+1 nations and Iran, which led to Iran laying down its nuclear weapons program in exchange for looser economic sanctions placed on the nation.
  • America left the deal in 2018 in an attempt to force Iran to make more concessions in a new deal.
  • This led to Iran breaking all regulation as part of the deal and continue its nuclear weapons program.
  • Now, President Biden has stated his support in rejoining the JCPOA.

Citations

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/20/middleeast/iran-biden-nuclear-deal-intl-hnk/index.html

https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Timeline-of-Nuclear-Diplomacy-With-Iran

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-deal-republicans-democrats-world-reactions.html

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/22/iran-nuclear-deal-republicans-aim-to-block-biden-rejoining

https://www.businessinsider.com/iran-nuclear-deal-explained

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/middleeast/trump-iran-deal-republicans-democrats-world-reactions.html

https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2018/may/02/donald-trump/donald-trump-said-wrongly-iran-nuclear-deal-expire/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50979463

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