If Joe Biden wins the US Presidential Election and he is likely to offer Iran a new Nuclear Deal. It is also likely that Americans will ditch President Donald Trump in the elections due to his mishandling of COVID-19 pandemic. The US remains the top affected country that is struggling to fight the pandemic. Former US treasury secretary said, “Heck if the US had handled the pandemic as well as Pakistan, we would have saved in the neighbourhood of $10 trillion.”
In case Joe Biden wins, he will offer Iran table talks on nuclear issues. He seems in his speeches to be very pacific, friendly and practical towards the Muslim World. Joe Biden in an Op-Ed wrote that there is a smarter way to impose tough restrictions on Iran. He said Trump’s Iran policy “is a dangerous failure.” Therefore, we can expect the Biden Administration to change the policy over Iran. On another occasion, he vowed to readopt the Iran Deal (signed in 2015) if Iran shows full compliance with the terms.
Will Iran accept the offer?
That was a question asked to Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif. He said Iran is still party to the deal and it was the US that withdrew the Iran Nuclear deal. He said Iran is willing to come back to the deal if the US shows friendly behaviour. However, he said Iran will not renegotiate the deal. He said the US signed what then-Vice President Joe Biden called the ‘best deal’. He said, “The United States first must come clean, must get its act together, must come back to be a lawful member of the international community, start implementing its obligations, and then talk about the rest of the deal.”
What is the Iran Nuclear Deal?
In 2013, President Barack Obama called Hassan Rouhani and offered talks on Iran’s nuclear program. A consequent interim Nuclear Deal was signed between P5, Canada and Iran. Iran gained sanctions relief while it cut off the country’s “most likely path to a bomb.”
In 2015, a final deal namely Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed between the above parties as well as the European Union. Iran agreed to undertake a series of steps: dismantling and redesigning of the nuclear reactor in Arak, allowing a more intrusive verification mechanism and limiting uranium enrichment for at least 15 years.
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It was meant to increase Iran’s “breakout time” for developing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few weeks time to at least one year. In return, Iran gained relief in sanctions. Many Republicans opposed the deal saying that it will bolster the Iranian government and allow it to destabilize the region.
Trump reverses the progress over Iran
In May 2018, President Trump pulled out of JCPOA and imposed sanctions to place “maximum pressure” over Iran. Iran in retaliation boosted its uranium enrichment. What followed was a series of continued escalation between the US and Iran.
In April 2019, the US designated Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization. Rouhani said it will increase IRGC’s popularity across the region. A month later, Trump calls Iran ‘a nation of terror’ after attacks on commercial ships in the Strait of Hormuz. Moreover, the US deployed 1000 troops in the Middle East to respond to future attacks.
A few months later in September 2019, Houthis carried out attacks on Saudi oil fields including the Aramco Oil giant. The US and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for it, even though Houthis had cited Saudi intervention in the Yemen Civil War.
On 31st December 2019, protests at the US embassy in Baghdad led Trump to tweet saying ‘Iran will pay a very big price.’ Four days later, the US assassinated IRGC’s Quds Force commander, General Qasem Soleimani during a drone strike in Iraq. Iran promised heavy retaliation. High alerted Irani forces mistakenly downed Ukrainian passenger plane, and a series of attacks were launched on US bases in Iraq.
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Further escalation was said to have been prevented by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Although there were no statements on Pakistan’s role in US-Iran de-escalation by US or Iran, there was a statement by PM Khan in an interview to Al-Jazeera saying that “his country prevented a military escalation from taking place in the volatile region.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said that the US was still a party to JCPOA and they can snap sanctions on Iran via United Nations Security Council resolutions. Russia among others said the US was already ‘out of the deal.’
The region would definitely witness peace if Iran and the US cooperate with the help of Biden. Biden can also mediate between Iran and Saudi if he overpowers the interests of opposing lobbies such as one in the defence sector and another in Israel.