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Even though both Iran and the United States appear interested in reviving the nuclear deal, experts believe that deep distrust and decades of animosity will prevent both sides from normalizing their relations in the near future.

In mid-December, EU ambassador Enrique Mora cautioned negotiators that the window of opportunity to rescue the international nuclear agreement with Iran had reduced to a couple of weeks.

"Difficult political decisions must be made both in Tehran and in Washington," Mora, the discussions' organizer, said on Monday at the opening of the eighth and perhaps final session nuclear talks in Vienna to rescue the JCPOA.

Time is running out before the 2015 agreement is rendered useless. In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement, reimposing US sanctions on Iran.

Iran began to break several of the agreement terms a year later.

Tehran is presently refining tiny amounts of uranium to a purity of 60%, which is only a short distance from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Iran also uses sophisticated centrifuges prohibited by the agreement, and its uranium stockpile has grown far above the agreement's limitations.

Iran, which insists that its nuclear program is benign, has been subjected to a slew of US sanctions. Tehran has stated that if Washington lifted the sanctions, it would halt its nuclear program once more.

Iran requests that the United States eliminate all sanctions placed on it after 2018. On the other hand, the US claims that not all of the sanctions, notably those targeting top officials of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, were connected to the nuclear program (IRGC).

Since ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi assumed office in early August, they have grown more dominant than ever. Islamic hardliners and IRGC commanders now hold all of the country's top positions and control all of the country's levers of power.

Despite their claims to safeguard the nuclear accord for economic reasons, they oppose normalizing relations with the West, notably with the United States, which hardliners claim is pursuing regime change in Tehran.

Relations between the United States and Iran have been strained since April 1980, just months after the Shah was deposed and the American Embassy was occupied by Islamist students loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

During the administration of Bill Clinton, for instance, Iranian President Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — who served from 1989 to 1997 — attempted to improve relations with the United States. According to Ahmadian, he smoothed the path for American firms to enter Iran and offered appealing offers to a few significant corporations.

However, thanks to the anti-Iran lobby's activities in Washington, the US Congress approved the "Iran Foreign Oil Sanctions Act" in 1995, prohibiting foreign investment in Tehran's energy industry. According to Ahmadian, Clinton signed the bill into law in 1996.

One of the main grounds for Iran's inclusion in the so-called axis of evil was its covert nuclear program. According to sources, IRGC leaders met with Abdul Qadeer Khan, dubbed the "father of Pakistan's nuclear weapon," several occasions.

Khan, who died in Islamabad in October 2021, was regarded as a national hero in Pakistan for turning his country into the world's first Islamic nuclear power. Still, he was a global embarrassment for smuggling nuclear secrets to Iran and North Korea.

In a 2015 interview with Iran's main news agency, IRNA, Rafsanjani stated he would have loved to meet Khan if he had the chance. Still, the US has few choices for stopping Iran's nuclear program, except the deployment of military action, which might spark a new Middle East conflict. Both countries appear to want nothing more than to return to the nuclear accord at present.

Written By: Olivium's Staf.


References:

  • Hashim, A.S., 2021. Iran: Imperial and Republican Civil–Military Relations. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. 
  • Sariolghalam, M., 2020. Iran and the West. Horizons: Journal of International Relations and Sustainable Development, (16), pp.160-167. 
  • Chen, Y., 2021. New Development of Turkey-Iran Relations from the Perspective of Eurasianism. In The Geopolitics of Iran (pp. 553-566). Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.
  • Mazhar, D.M.S. and Goraya, D.N.S., 2020. Geneva Deal: Beginning of a New Era between Iran-Us Relations. South Asian Studies, 29(1).
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