PURSUING A NUCLEAR DEAL WITH IRAN: AN ANALYSIS OF 2015 JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION (JCPOA) NEGOTIATIONS VS. 2021-2022 JCPOA NEGOTIATIONS

Date

2022-12-08

Authors

Richardson, Sierra

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Abstract

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was an unprecedented agreement between the P5+1 partners (US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany), the European Union (EU), and Iran. Its purpose was to address the rate at which Iran was developing its nuclear capabilities, as in 2015, it was estimated that Iran could produce enough fissile material to create a nuclear weapon within two to three months of a decision to do so. On April 2, 2015, the P5+1 and Iran reached an agreement on a framework for the JCPOA, and the accord was finalized on July 14, 2015. The agreement was implemented a year later January 16, 2016. Sanctions on Iran were lifted, and the IAEA was granted full transparency to monitor Iran’s nuclear compliance. However, in 2018, the US under the Trump Administration withdrew from the JCPOA, and the current US presidential administration has been working unsuccessfully for almost two years to revive the agreement with Iran. Russia invading Ukraine has complicated the geopolitical environment and caused the talks to stall. As negotiations continue, the US and its strategic partners must accept that the previous strategies leading up to the successful 2015 JCPOA with Iran have become ineffective in the current geopolitical climate—specifically, within the context of the Russia-Ukraine war. This paper argues that to renegotiate a new deal, the US and strategic partners cannot reuse the formula used to negotiate the 2015 JCPOA with Iran; instead, US foreign policy efforts must increase the value and discussion of static elements to the same level as that of dynamic elements when approaching negotiations. It will explore why the US and strategic partners have been unsuccessful over the years in revitalizing the JCPOA with Iran by analyzing the elements involved in the 2015 JCPOA agreement, their effectiveness today within the context of the Russia-Ukraine War, and the implications of Iran becoming a nuclear or nuclear-threshold state because of failed negotiations. In doing so, it will attempt to identify why the US’s foreign policy under the Biden administration has not been successful in revitalizing a nuclear deal, to enable US policymakers and strategic partners to better articulate the needs and anticipate the success rate, direction, and results of nuclear discussions.

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Keywords

JCPOA, static elements, dynamic elements, nuclear, nuclear negotiations, nuclear threshold, Iran

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