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Nuclear deal with Iran – what are the implications of the 14 July 2015 agreement?

Written by Eric Pichon

On 14 July 2015, Iran and the group of negotiators known as ‘E3/EU + 3’ or ‘P5+1’* agreed on a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program”. According to the agreement, Iran will have to reduce the number of its centrifuges, to produce only low-enriched uranium (not over 3.67% – whereas a nuclear bomb requires 90%-enriched uranium) in a limited amount during 15 years and to accept monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). When the IAEA has evidence that Iran has fulfilled its obligations – which is expected in about 6 months- most US and EU sanctions will be fully lifted, while the embargo on conventional arms and ballistic missiles will stay in place for, respectively, 5 and 8 more years.

Nuclear deal with Iran – what are the implications of the 14 July 2015 agreement?

© European Union 2015 – EC,Photo : Kubani Samuel ©: AFP-Services ,EC – Audiovisual Service

The agreement still needs to be legally approved by the various stakeholders, but is already seen by some commentators as an opportunity for the EU to reengage in dialogue with Iran, which could help stabilise the Middle East, where Iran is a pivotal actor in several hot spots (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen). Other analysts, on the contrary, see the deal as a fool’s bargain: according to them, Iran will gain a considerable economic advantage on sanctions relief, which it could use to increase its military strength, while a re-imposition of sanctions (‘snapback’) would be difficult if Iran violates its commitments.

This selection of analyses and official declarations looks at the main issues.

[ *’E3/EU + 3′ refers to the representatives of 3 EU countries (France, Germany, the United Kingdom), the EU External Action Service + 3 non-EU powers (China, Russia, the United States) – the six countries negotiating with Iran are also commonly referred to as ‘P5+1’ as they are the 5 permanent UN Security Council members + Germany]

> See also our Plenary At a Glance: Patryk Pawlak. Nuclear Deal with Iran. EPRS, 3/09/2015, 1p.

Background and overview

The situation as of 14 July 2015

Previous EPRS posts:

On the preliminary deal (2 April 2015) : Eric Pichon. Nuclear talks with Iran: the 2 April 2015 preliminary deal , 17/04/2015 (previous version of this post).

Martin E. Petersen. First reactions to the Iran nuclear deal , 15/01/2014;  Iran’s nuclear programme: 10 years of talks , 19/11/2013; Is a nuclear deal with Iran on the cards? 24/10/2013.

Iran and the Bomb. 2 (2014) compiles analyses about the Iranian nuclear programme, assessment of the real intentions of Iranian governments, and forecasts of the outcome of ‘Iran talks’ and sanctions. ( book available in the EP library )

The main benchmarks of Iran’s nuclear programme and Iran nuclear talks are listed by the Arms Control Association – see also their Iran page for the latest developments (mostly from a US viewpoint).

Sanctions in force as of 14 July 2015

UN sanctions

UN sanctions are based on resolutions 1737 (2006) , 1747 (2007) , 1803 (2008) and 1929 (2010) , and resolutions enforcing them , they are monitored by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006) assisted by a Panel of experts .

EU sanctions

European Union Restrictive measures (sanctions) in force (Regulations based on Article 215 TFEU and Decisions adopted in the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy). European Commission. Sanctions against Iran: p. 28

US sanctions

The US Department of State web pages on US sanctions against Iran provide in particular a series of fact-sheets detailing legislation passed by Congress, an Presidential Executive Orders.

Kenneth Katzman. Iran sanctions . CRS Congressional Research Service (USA), CRS Report RS20871, 9/03/2015, 82 p.
A list of US and international sanctions, and an assessment of their effectiveness.

The 14 July 2015 accord: official text and stakeholders’ views

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action: Official text

On the European External Action Service website:

Official statements

What Key Players Are Saying About the Iran Nuclear Deal . The New York Times. 14/07/2015.
A quick overview of international reactions.

EU

Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Vienna, 14 July 2015 . EEAS, 2/04/2015.
“Today is an historic day. It is a great honour for us to announce that we have reached an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.”

EP President Martin Schulz – Press release: Iran nuclear agreement: good for Iran, for the region and for global security . European Parliament, 14/07/2015.

Council Press release: Iran: Suspension of EU sanctions extended for six months , Consilium.europa.eu, 14/07/2015

Council conclusions on the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme , 20/07/2015

USA

Statement by the President on Iran , White House, 14/07/2015.
“Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not — a comprehensive, long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Historic Deal with Iran , statement by John Kerry, US Secretary of State, 14/07/2015.

On the same page ( P5+1 Talks with Iran ), the US Department of State offers a selection of John Kerry’s declarations on the agreement.

The US Congress will vote on the deal in September, a two-third majority will be needed to reject it. President Obama pledged to veto a negative vote.

Russia

Foreign Ministry statement on the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran on the comprehensive settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 14/07/2015.

Iran

Iran’s Top Negotiator: Vienna Agreement Solid Basis for Future Cooperation , FARS news, 14/07/2015.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif: “This agreement is not the ceiling, but a firm foundation for future work.”

Rouhani Calls on US Officials to Quit Language of Threat against Iran , FARS news, 26/07/2015
[President Rouhani’s remarks came after US State Secretary John Kerry threatened to use military action against Tehran if it failed to respect a historic nuclear deal sealed on 14 July.]

Iranian President: Israel Shuddered by Nuclear Agreement , FARS news, 06/08/2015
Hassan Rouhani: “Today all the regional nations and the great Iranian nation, except the usurper Zionist regime and the American warmongers, are happy with this big agreement”.

AEOI [Atomic Energy Organization of Iran] Chief: Powers Forced to Accept Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Right . FARS News, 18/08/2015.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Head of the AEOI: “Recognition of Iran’s enrichment right and acquisition of the nuclear technology was imposed on the other side” during the negotiations with the six world powers.

United Nations

Security Council adopts resolution endorsing Iran nuclear deal , UN News Center, 20 July 2015.

UN atomic energy agency receives documents from Iran on nuclear programme , UN News Center, 17 August 2015.

IAEA and Iran: Chronology of Key Events . International Atomic Energy Agency.

Analyses (post-14 July 2015)

Issue guides

Elie Geranmayeh. Explainer: The Iran nuclear deal . ECFR European Council on Foreign Relations, 17/07/2015.
A summary on the main components of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed on 14 July between Iran and the E3+3

George Perkovich; et al. Parsing the Iran Deal . Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 7/08/2015.
An analysis of the Iran deal from a nonproliferation perspective. Pros, cons and bottomline of the agreement on: Implementation and Enforcement; Uranium Enrichment; Natanz Site; Fordow Site; Arak Reactor and Reprocessing; Procurement; IAEA Verification; Sanctions; Nuclear Cooperation.

Gary Samore; et al. The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide . Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Harvard Kennedy School (USA), 08/2015, 41 p.
A comprehensive review of the agreement’s technical and legal aspects.

Next steps

Christophe Stiernon. Iran : quel avenir pour l’embargo sur les armes? GRIP Groupe de recherche et d’information sur la paix et la sécurité, 19/08/2015, 4 p.
After highlighting the main points of the Iran deal, and its impact on the sanctions, the author reminds arms trade is not concerned as Iran is still under embargo by the UN and the EU. In any case, it would be difficult for Iran to compete with Israel and Gulf countries’ military capacity, supported by the United States.

John B. Bellinger III. How Binding Is the Iran Deal? Council on Foreign Relations, 23/07/2015.
A legal analysis.

What is the Iran deal and can it pass through Congress? CNN, 24/08/2015.

Elie Geranmayeh. Europe won’t bow to an anti-Iran-deal US Congress. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26/08/2015.
For the researcher, whatever the Congress votes, a renegotiation of the deal is unlikely to be accepted by the EU member states.

What If Tehran Turns Down the Nuclear Deal? The Washington Times, 20/08/2015.

Mehdi Khalaji. Why Khamenei’s Official Approval of the Nuclear Deal Matters . TWI The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 17/08/2015.
“Iran’s legal procedure for approving the nuclear deal remains unclear”

What will be the impact of the deal…?

Justin Fishel. Iran Nuclear Deal: A Look at the Winners and Losers . ABC news, 14/07/2015.
The author assesses which are the beneficiaries for the main clauses of the accord.

..on the oil market

How the Iran Deal Will Affect Oil Markets in the Short Term . Stratfor, 16/07/2015.
“If sanctions relief occurs, 2016 will almost surely be another year of depressed oil prices thanks to renewed Iranian oil exports.”

How the Iran Deal Will Affect Oil Markets in the Long Term . Stratfor, 17/07/2015.
“Iran hopes to entice foreign investors into Iran with new contract terms once sanctions are lifted.”

..on Iran

Elliott Abrams. Iran Got a Far Better Deal Than It Had Any Right to Expect . National Review, 15/07/2015.
Although the agreement states that any violation of the agreement by Iran would lead to reinstate the sanctions (‘snapback’), the author argues this is a wishful thinking, as at the same time the reimposition of sanctions would free Iran from all commitments. In addition, western companies who would have seized the opportunity to invest in Iran would resist to any reimposition of sanctions. Conversely, Iran has managed to keep its nuclear programme at a rather high level, which makes the deal unbalanced, adds the author, criticizing Obama’s presumptions.

Firms linked to Revolutionary Guards to win sanctions relief under Iran deal . Reuters, 9/08/2015.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards are likely to increase their economic power after the sanctions are lifted.

Will nuclear deal empower or diminish Iran’s civil society? Democracy Digest, 10/08/2015.
A review of Iranian human rights activists’ positions.

..on the EU

Cornelius Adebahr. What the Iran Deal Means for Europe . Carnegie Europe, 15/07/2015.
The agreement can be considered as a victory for the EU approach, but only if the EU and its member states ensure it is properly implemented.

Ellie Geranmayeh. Engaging with Iran: A European agenda . ECFR European Council on Foreign Relations (UK), Policy Brief, 14/07/2015, 12 p.
The agreement leaves room for a new engagement towards Iran. The author argues that despite Iran is looked as a threat for the region, it has a number of common interests with the EU: in particular the need for stability at Iran’s borders, including Syria and Iraq, Yemen. A better EU engagement could help temper Iran’s support to Hezbollah or the Syrian regime.

Eldar Mamedov and Amanda Paul. EU-Iran relations post-Vienna: the way forward . EPC European Policy Center, Commentary, 16/07/2015, 2 p.
The EU should use the leverage gained during the talks with Iran, to have its voice better heard in the US and the Middle East, it has the ability reengage a dialogue with Iran on the regional security an human rights, provided its Members states endeavours to define clear goals.

Ali Ghezelbash; Rouzbeh Parsi.  The Obstacles Ahead in Europe’s Race to Trade With Post-Sanctions Iran . WPR World Politics Review, 20/08/2015.
Coming back to the Iranian market will not be so easy for European firms, as the sanctions regime has made its structure more complex. Competitors are numerous and they will have to deal with Iranian decision-makers’ own terms (local production, technology transfer, long term investments).

Some European think-tanks’ analyses and dossiers:

..on the USA

Kenneth Katzman; Paul K. Kerr, Coordinators. Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress . CRS Congressional Research Service (USA), CRS Report, R44142, 6/08/2015, 32 p.
The Congressional Research Service has prepared a report for Members and Committees in Congress. It assesses the impact of the agreement’s provisions, and addresses the implications of a possible Congressional disapproval of the agreement.

The agreement about a nuclear deal has triggered many contrasted analyses from US think tanks, such as:

…on the Middle East and Turkey

Payam Mohseni (ed.). Iran and the Arab World after the Nuclear Deal: Rivalry and Engagement in a New Era . Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Harvard Kennedy School (USA), The Iran Project, 08/2015, 100 p.
An impact assessment of the nuclear deal on Iran’s neighbours, by a ” over a dozen of the leading experts of the subject based in the Arab world.”

After the Nuclear Deal, a Region Recalibrates . Stratfor, 28/07/2015.
According to the analyst, ” Iran will use its newfound international legitimacy to attempt to realize its ambitions to become the regional hegemon. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and a host of small countries and even smaller religious and ethnic groups will all compete and at times align for influence.”

Riccardo Alcaro. The West and the Middle East After the Iran Nuclear Deal . IAI Istituto Affari Internazionali, 4/08/2015.
The agreement will not make Iran an ally for its neighbours  but it shows that “intense diplomacy” can do better than “cries for war”: there is room for “win-win” solutions in the sectarian conflicts in the region.

Israel

How the U.S.-Iranian Pact Affects Israel . Stratfor, 3/08/2015.
According to the author, “the Iranian nuclear deal has changed the U.S.-Israeli relationship and has made Israel’s geopolitical environment more dangerous.”

The Nuclear Deal with Iran: Commentary & Analysis by researchers of the The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies (MITVIM), July 2015.

Daniel Levy. Israel’s Iran Deal Enthusiasts . Foreign Affairs, 12/08/2015.
“Israeli politicians and pundits have lined up against the deal, while the country’s experts-the scientific and security community-have come out in favor”

Syria

Aron Lund. What Does the Iran Deal Mean for Syria? Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 14/07/2015.
” Iran sees its own security as inextricably tied to the network of regional allies and proxies it has cultivated in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon over the past decades. These allies include Assad and several Syrian pro-government militias , but also the Lebanese Shia faction Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia militias that fight in both Iraq and Syria . Having spent billions in support of its regional allies even as its economy suffered from crushing international sanctions, Iran isn’t likely to hold back now.”

Saudi Arabia

Saudi-Iranian understanding key to nuclear deal’s success . Al-Monitor, 24/07/2015.
The nuclear deal might help trigger a rapprochement between the two regional powers – but it depends on the political balance in both countries.

Yoel Guzansky. Could the Iran Deal Drive Saudi Arabia to Go Nuclear? Haaretz, 22/07/2015.
Members of the Saudi Consultative Assembly called for “a nuclear program similar to that of Iran.”

Turkey – Cengiz Çandar. How Turkey really feels about the Iran deal . Al-Monitor, 20/07/2015.
Turkey welcomed the deal, but is not keen to let Iran gain too much influence on the

..on Asia and Russia

David M. Herszenhorn. Russia Quickly Maneuvers to Capitalize on Iran Nuclear Deal . The New York Times. 14/07/2015.
This Iran deal will open markets for Russia, in nuclear technologies, but the impact on oil prices might harm Russia’s economy.

Michal Singh. The Sino-Iranian Tango: Why the Nuclear Deal is Good for China . Foreign Affairs, 21/07/2015.

Tanvi Madan. India and the Iran deal . The Brookings Institution, 20/07/2015.

Discussion

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