By Javad Heirannia

U.S. withdrawal of JCPOA likely to result in loss of economic benefits to Iran: Jenkins

May 28, 2018 - 12:46

TEHRAN - Peter Jenkins, former UK Ambassador to the IAEA and UN says that “Politically, however, recognising that U.S. intentions post-withdrawal are likely to result in a loss of economic benefits to Iran, the Europeans, Russia and China are likely to look for as many ways as possible of compensating for that economic loss.”

Former associate fellow of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy also adds that “As long as Iran is complying with the JCPOA, the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are deprived of any basis for claiming that Iran presents a nuclear threat which must be eliminated by the use of force.”

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: The U.S. violated the JCPOA. What are the reasons behind this unilateral revocation?

A: Reading between the lines of the statements made by President Trump on 8 May 2018, and Secretary Pompeo on 21 May, one can discern multiple motives for pulling the United States out of the JCPOA. The president wants to destroy one of President Obama’s major achievements. The president is trying to please the Prime Minister of Israel, who in 2015 opposed conclusion of the JCPOA, and who has influence over certain U.S. political campaign funders. The president may be hoping to create an opportunity for himself to demonstrate his skill as a negotiator, believing that “crippling sanctions” will lead to Iran begging for a replacement deal. It is more likely, however, that  above all he wants to provoke Iran into resuming nuclear activities which can provide him with a pretext for attacking Iran militarily, in a belief, encouraged by his National Security Adviser, that this will bring about the fall of the Islamic Republic, “regime change”.  

Q: In regard to Trump's violation of the Iran deal, what are the obligations and responsibilities of the deal's other signatories?

A: The president’s decision neither adds to, nor subtracts from the obligations and responsibilities of the other parties. Whether the JCPOA can survive the U.S. withdrawal is a question that must be addressed politically, not legally.

The JCPOA does not provide for the termination of the deal if any of the parties chooses to withdraw. Nor does it require any of the remaining parties to compensate Iran if one party chooses to withdraw. Politically, however, recognising that U.S. intentions post-withdrawal are likely to result in a loss of economic benefits to Iran, the Europeans, Russia and China are likely to look for as many ways as possible of compensating for that economic loss.

At this point it is hard to judge the extent to which this attempt to compensate Iran will succeed. It may be that Iran will have to reconcile itself to receiving fewer benefits than it anticipated when it signed the JCPOA in July 2015. In that context, though, one must not forget that the JCPOA offers Iran substantial political and security benefits. It is much more than an economic agreement. In particular, as long as Iran is complying with the JCPOA, the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia are deprived of any basis for claiming that Iran presents a nuclear threat which must be eliminated by the use of force.   

Q: In a tactful reaction to Trump's Betrayal of Nuclear Deal, Iran said the survival of JCPOA highly depends on firm European guarantees. Since the EU's leverage is not strong enough to bring the U.S. back to reason, shall Iran count on their guarantees?

A: I agree that Europe cannot hope to bring the United States back to reason. Whether it can hope to be able to deliver the guarantees for which its Iranian partner has called depends on what that word means in this context. Europe can pledge its own commitment to the JCPOA for as long as Iran is committed. In fact, it has already done so. It can also pledge to leave no stone unturned in its search for ways of minimising the economic harm to Iran that the United States will be seeking to cause. But it will be beyond Europe’s powers to ensure that Iran will be as well off as it would have been if the United States had remained a party and had complied fully with its JCPOA obligations.

Q: Will EU dare to invest or have economic engagement with Iran in a situation where the U.S. nuclear related sanctions are back again and the foreign companies face U.S. penalties?

A: Some EU firms will dare to do business in and with Iran, others will not. Those that feel themselves to be vulnerable to U.S. legal restrictions on dealing with Iran, because they have U.S. business interests or executives who need to visit the United States, will hold back – unless the EU can find a way of protecting them from U.S. measures or pressuring the U.S. government into issuing waivers.

It is worth remembering that, despite widespread uncertainty in Europe since 2015 concerning U.S. intentions post-Obama, many more European firms have Iranian interests now than was the case prior to the JCPOA.

Q: Returning which kind of the sanctions are red line for Iran that will endanger its national interest?
A: I, a non-Iranian, am not qualified to answer that question.

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