By Mohammad Mazhari

A new deal will recognize current state of Iran's nuclear program: professor

January 10, 2022 - 12:54
“Progress in Vienna talks, though limited, is promising”

TEHRAN - An American academic says a new deal will have to be crafted in Vienna in which the recent developments in Iran’s nuclear program are “recognized”.

“A new deal will have to be crafted, one that recognizes the current state of Iran's nuclear program,” Paul Poast tells the Tehran Times.

The associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago believes that the progress in Vienna, though limited, is promising.

“But given that we are now almost a year into the U.S. President Biden's administration (and there is a good chance that the Republicans will gain back some control of Congress in the 2022 election), coupled with the progress that Iran has made in its nuclear program, it's unlikely that the parties can return to the terms of the previous deal.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What is your expectation about the Vienna talks? Do you predict any progress?

A: The progress in Vienna, though limited, is promising.  But given that we are now almost a year into U.S. President Biden's administration (and there is a good chance that the Republicans will gain back some control of Congress in the 2022 election), coupled with the progress that Iran has made in its nuclear program, it's unlikely that the parties can return to the terms of the previous deal.  A new deal will have to be crafted, one that recognizes the current state of Iran's nuclear program. 

There are two primary obstacles to reaching an agreement. First, from the perspective of the United States, Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon is just one of several challenges Iran presents in the region. Pressure from U.S. allies in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, will make it difficult to reach a deal that only focuses on the nuclear program.  Second, from Iran's perspective, the U.S. is not a trustworthy diplomatic partner.  The concern is that even if a new deal is reached with the Biden Administration, a Republican administration after the 2024 election could, again, pull out of the deal.

Q:  Even when a government reaches an agreement with the U.S. and abides by it, there is no guarantee that the U.S. won’t abandon it. The 2015 nuclear agreement – JCPOA – is a case in point. In view of this bitter fact, how can governments trust the U.S.?

A: As I suggested above, there is great concern about the ability of the U.S. to stay committed to a non-ratified agreement. But a treaty is simply not possible, as there is no way that a U.S. Senate would ratify it.  This is why I think that an agreement will not be possible to reach and, ultimately, Iran might possibly achieve nuclear "breakout capability" rather than sign a deal that delays the program.

Q: Many American political leaders are talking about world leadership. What are the main requirements of such a leadership?

A: I've actually tweeted about this. The key for American leadership is a willingness to build a broad coalition of support, especially among U.S. allies. That doesn't mean the U.S. compromises its core interests.  But it does mean that the U.S. finds an approach that brings on board as many countries as possible (though not everyone).  To me, that is really the key issue. The U.S. will never be able to be fully onboard with rejoining the JCPOA if it cannot find a way for Israel and Saudi Arabia to support a deal.

Q: Do you consider Trump a serious rival to Biden in 2024?

A: Yes, Trump is a serious contender.  But there are others in his own party who are interested in running in 2024.  To me, it seems that "Trumpism", but not Trump himself, will be the key for Biden to overcome in 2024.

Q: To what extent does the American public care about U.S. foreign policy?

A: Most Americans don't care about U.S. foreign policy.  They care about trade and immigration to the extent that either is perceived as a threat to American jobs. So long as Americans have jobs, they are largely indifferent to what the U.S. does in foreign policy.  This is why the U.S. was able to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan for so long: the American public largely lost interest.

(The views expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of Tehran Times.)

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