Political rivalries and protests as Iran waits for US decision on nuclear deal

Published in GSN, 26 April 2018

Speculation over whether the United States will stick to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal was in full flood as GSN went to press, with French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seen as perhaps the last big opportunity for Europe to convince President Donald Trump to stand by the painstakingly constructed deal which has been in force for a little over two years. True to his mercurial form, Trump hinted he may yet reverse his oft-stated determination to exit the JCPOA, saying on 25 April, following discussions with Macron, that “we could at least have an agreement among ourselves fairly quickly”.

It would be rash to place too much store by such comments. Even if Trump can be convinced, it remains to be seen whether any new formula would prove acceptable to Tehran, but it will require a formidable diplomatic push by European governments and Russia to convince Iran to accept any amendments, extensions or reviews. Iranian leaders remain adamant they will not renegotiate; they would rather exit the JCPOA – and possibly the even more important Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) – and quickly resume uranium enrichment activities were the US to pull out.

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