In 2015 the Islamic Republic of Iran along with the US, Russia, China, and many European nations ended years of negotiations in the nuclear deal. It was the first breakthrough for both sides after years of hostile relationships. This then became a symbol of how American diplomacy can help to resolve major conflicts. The Iran nuclear deal was a great relief for Iran as well for western leaders as they saw it as the best opportunity to control the desire of the Iranian state to have nuclear weapons and how after years of sanctions that crippled the Iranian economy it was a chance for Iran to come back at the international level. This deal involved any aspect of the nuclear deal and focused on certain critical points including stockpile, enrichment, centrifuge, inspections, and sanctions. Iran has to give up 97% of its enriched uranium and can have maximum enriched uranium, not more than 3.67%. Along with it, Iran’s nuclear stockpile will be reduced to 300KG down from 10000KG. The enriched uranium is much lower in grade and usually, it required over 90% enriched uranium to be used for weapons. Iran will also have to reduce its centrifuge from 20000 to 6104 but only 1000 can be used for fissile material and research development. For this deal to work, the Iranian nuclear site will be monitored by the team that will be appointed under the JCPOA. In return, the sanctions imposed on Iran will be lifted and its economy can come back on track and will allow it to trade with other nations in the world.
All this was done to stabilize the Middle East and to stop the spread of the arms race. If Iran would have got hold of the nuclear arms it would have made Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt start the research into the nuclear arena. This entire region has been very sensitive since the fall of the Shah and then the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A nuclear arms race would have turned this already sensitive region into a huge military conflict spanning many countries. When the sanctions were imposed on Iran it was an important moment for the Saudi kingdom that sees Iran as a far bigger threat for its hegemony in West Asia.
The main aim of the Iran nuclear deal was to reduce the breakout capacity of the Iranian regime and to make it difficult for the state to make nuclear weapons. It is estimated that if Iran in the future decides to withdraw from the deal it would take it 10-15 years to get on track to make nuclear weapons. This deal can be considered as a temporary solution to the nuclear program and it will be reviewed from time to time and amendments will be made. This was one of the reasons that led Donald Trump to pull out of the nuclear deal. He found this deal way too centered towards Iran and culminated that it doesn’t benefit either the USA or Israel. Both Israel and Trump have at numerous times stated that the deal will help Iran to grow its economy and with that, it will eventually again work on nuclear weapons with more money and technology.
When the Joint comprehensive plan of Action (JCPOA) was laid down there was specific regulation that was put by the committee to the Iranian regime. The inspections were one such critical department where no compromises had to be made. The International Atomic Energy Agency clearly said that the regarding the core of the heavy reactor at the Arak will be monitored more closely. It is not very clear whether there are only three nuclear facilities of Iran as it previously denied having any nuclear facility but only acknowledge it when the report was published and evidence was presented by the American CIA and the Israeli MOSSAD that Iran has nuclear facilities in Natanz and Forsoshad.
Under JCPOA on 14 July Natanz facility will be limited to no more than 5000 of the oldest centrifuge for 10 years. From 2015- 2017 Iran continued the test of a lot of missiles even after signing the deal. Iran carried out the test of Ghadr 110 having a range of 1500-200KM. On 8th and 9th march 2016, it carried out the launch of Qiam. On 29th Khoramshar ballistic missile was launched with launch up to 600 miles before failing. On 23 September 2017 Iran tested another missile during its military parade. These test worries Donald trump and Israel and made the trump administration very skeptical about the deal with Iran. He thought Iran was getting way too powerful while not abiding by the deal and so when he came into power he pulled the US out of the deal.
This deal was supported by most of the nations and were confident that by all major power having a say in this deal Iran could be convinced no to pursue the goal of nuclear weapons. India was one such country that was very supportive of this deal mainly because it could import oil at much cheaper prices but due to western sanctions it could no longer trade with Iran. When the US was thinking of pulling out of the deal the French president Emanuel Macron went to the US to discuss the matter with Donald Trump. But when talks were concluded between the parties it was evident that Trump had made his mind to making the US pull out of this deal. Countering America Adversaries through Sanctions (CAATSA) imposed sanctions on Iran on multiple provisions that deal with its various missile programs of Iran, with its Quds force.
But over the years tension has risen between the two countries. On 8th April the US declared the Iranian revolutionary guard corps as a foreign terrorist organization and considering that IRGC is the elite military force of the Iranian state, this was one very rare incident that a country that has decreed an armed force of another country as a terrorist organization. On 20th June a US drone was shot by Iran in its airspace which led to even more tensions. On 28th December 2019 Iran attacks the US military base in Iraq that resulted in the casualty of one American soldier. On 29th December US airstrikes on Iranian-backed rebel groups in Iraq and Syria. Two days later huge mob attacks the US embassy in Iraq and immediately US blames Iran for it and threatens Iran with serious consequences. Finally on the 3rd of 2020 something happened that shook the entire world and caused the fault line between the US and Iran to deepen to extreme levels. The US carried out a drone strike in Iraq that killed Iran’s topmost military commander Qasim Soleimani. It resulted in widespread protest in Iran as well as across the world, especially by the Shias community. Soleimani was the second most powerful person in Iran after the supreme leader. The protest continued against the US in Iran for weeks with a hundreds of thousands participating in the funeral of Soleimani.
With continuing tensions between the US and Iran, two well-set players are gaining the most. Israel and Saudi Arabia are two nations that have been hugely befitted from this rift. Saudi has been against Iran’s nuclear program as it wants to maintain its dominant position in the Middle East and due to the religious divide as well. Saudi Arabia is a strictly Sunni Muslim county and Iran a Shia majority. Israel on the other hand has considered Iran as a huge threat and everyday protest after Friday prayers in Iran shows how anti-Israeli sentiments persist in Iranian society. The ex-president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once said that he wants to wipe Israel off the map and this has been the same theme for many Iranian leaders that see Israel as an enemy to Muslims and a danger to it. Meanwhile, Iran is under sanctions from the US so it cannot trade with any country nor can it buy anything from the international market, but due to its extreme commercial use of gasoline, it has to import it from somewhere. China steps in to help Iran by supplying Iran with up to 35% of Iran’s domestic use of gasoline even though Iran has one of the highest reserves of gasoline. Iran’s nuclear deal has become a focal point for all global powers who are trying to lock their horns in the middle east. China and Russia are firmly backing Iran while US, EU, and Israel are opposed to it. As things heat up again it will be very important to see how all the global policies impact the Iran nuclear program, and with the regime change will Biden again make the US join the deal or it continues the legacy of Donald Trump.