Iran nuclear deal : Timeline – UPSC GS2

Iran nuclear deal
  • It is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • It was signed between Iran and the P5, plus Germany and the EU in 2015. P5 is the 5 permanent members of the UNSC (US, China, France, Russia, and UK).
  • The deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.
  • Under the deal most of Iran’s enriched uranium was shipped out of the country.
  • A heavy water facility was rendered inoperable
  • Operational nuclear facilities were brought under international inspection
  • In return, the deal involved lifting of international sanctions on Iran.
Timeline & Background of JCPOA:
  • The JCPOA was the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States).
  • It happened due to the backchannel talks between the US (President Barack Obama) and Iran, quietly brokered by Oman, in an attempt to repair the accumulated mistrust since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
  • The JCPOA obliged Iran to accept constraints on its uranium enrichment program verified by an intrusive inspection regime in return for a partial lifting of economic sanctions.
  • Obama Regime:
    • Faced with a hostile Republican Senate, President Obama was unable to get the nuclear deal ratified but implemented it on the basis of periodic Executive Orders to keep sanction waivers going.
  • Trump Regime:
    • When Donald Trump became president, he withdrew from the deal and called it a “horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.
    • Tensions rose as the US pushed ahead with its unilateral sanctions, widening its scope to cover nearly all Iranian banks connected to the global financial system.
    • For the first year after the US withdrawal, Iran’s response was muted as the E-3 (France, Germany, the U.K.) and the European Union (EU) promised to find ways to mitigate the US decision.
    • The E-3’s promised relief Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), created in 2019 to facilitate limited trade with Iran.
    • However, by May 2019, Iran’s strategic patience ran out as the anticipated economic relief from the E-3/EU failed to materialize.
    • As the sanctions began to hurt, Iran shifted to a strategy of ‘maximum resistance’.
  • Biden Regime:
    • US has restored sanctions waivers to Iran to allow international nuclear cooperation projects, as indirect American-Iranian talks on reviving the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran enter the final stretch.
    • The waiver allows other countries and companies to participate in Iran’s civilian nuclear programme without triggering US sanctions on them, in the name of promoting safety and non-proliferation.
    • Negotiations are undergoing to revive the deal.
    • The US said it will rejoin the agreement if Iran complies with the terms of the original deal, and if it addresses other issues related to alleged ballistic missile stockpiles and the proxy conflicts that it backs across the region.
What are the Challenges to the Restoration of JCPOA?
  • The regional cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is a major hurdle to the restoration.
  • The US and Saudi Arabia have strengthened their relationship according to US’s Middle East policy and to counter Iran as well.
  • The traditional Shia vs Sunni conflict between these countries has made it difficult to negotiate peace in the region.
  • Iran is currently in violation of several of its important commitments, such as the limits on stockpiles of enriched uranium, and the farther it goes, the more challenging the deal becomes.
  • Iran is blaming US sanctions for its economic losses due to the Trump administration’s pullout from the deal and imposing sanctions again.
What will be the Impacts on India of Restoration of JCPOA?
  • Restoration of JCPOA may ease many restrictions over the Iranian regime, which may directly or indirectly help India. This can be reflected in the following examples:
  • Boost to Regional Connectivity: Removing sanctions may revive India’s interest in the Chabahar Project, Bandar Abbas port, and other plans for regional connectivity.
  • This would further help India to neutralize the Chinese presence in Gwadar port, Pakistan.
  • Apart from Chabahar, India’s interest in the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC), which runs through Iran, which will improve connectivity with five Central Asian republics, may also get a boost.
  • Energy Security: Due to the pressure linked to the US’ Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), India has to bring down oil imports to zero.
  • Restoration of ties between the US and Iran will help India to procure cheap Iranian oil and aid in energy security.

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