P5+1 Nuclear Deal : US withdrawal


  • United States President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew US from historic 2015 Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal signed between Iran and P5+1 countries.
  • It also re-imposed sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the JCPOA.
  • Trump administration cited that it cannot prevent Iran nuclear bomb and nuclear deal is defective at its core as it does not target Iran’s ballistic missile programme, its nuclear activities beyond 2025, and its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.
  • However other parties to the deal China, France, Russia, UK, Germany and European Union are still supporting it, thus avoiding entire collapse of JCPOA.
Possible Impact on India:
  • Oil Prices: 
    • The impact on world oil prices will be immediately visible. Iran is presently India’s third biggest supplier (after Iraq and Saudi Arabia), and any increase in prices will hit both inflation levels as well as the Indian rupee, which breached ₹67 to the U.S. dollar this week.
    • In the past week alone, crude prices have crossed $70/bbl (barrel) level, touching a four-year high.
  • Chabahar: 
    • India’s moves over the last few years to develop berths at the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar was a key part of its plans to circumvent Pakistan’s blocks on trade with Afghanistan, and the new U.S. sanctions could slow or even bring those plans to a halt depending on how strictly they are implemented.
    • India has already committed about $85 million to Chabahar development with plans for a total of $500 million on the port, while a railway line to Afghanistan could cost as much as $1.6 billion.
    • A much tougher line on Iran and any further restrictions they place will make India’s Chabahar plans more expensive and even unviable.


  • INSTC:
    • Beyond Chabahar, India has been a founder of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) since it was ratified in 2002.
    • It starts from Iran and aims to cut right across Central Asia to Russia over a 7,200-km multi-mode network, cutting down transportation and time taken by trade by about 30%.
    • Plans for INSTC sped up after the JCPOA was signed in 2015 and sanctions on Iran were lifted.
    • New U.S. sanctions will affect these plans immediately, especially if any of the countries along the route or banking and insurance companies dealing with the INSTC plan also decide to adhere to U.S. restrictions on trade with Iran.


  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation:
    • India joined the SCO along with Pakistan last year, and both will be formally admitted in June 2018
    • This year, Chinese officials say they will consider inducting Iran into the 8-member Eurasian security organisation.
    • If the proposal is accepted by the SCO, which is led by China and Russia, India will become a member of a bloc that will be seen as anti-American and will run counter to some of the government’s other initiatives, for eg. the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral with the U.S., Australia and Japan.
    • The move may also rile other adversaries of Iran, like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel, with whom the Modi government has strengthened ties in an effort to balance its West Asia policy.


  • Rules-based order: 
    • India has long been a proponent of a “rules-based order” that depends on multilateral consensus and an adherence to commitments made by countries on the international stage.
    • By walking out of the JCPOA that was signed by the Obama administration, the US government has overturned the precept that such international agreements are made by “States” not just with prevailing governments or regimes.
    • This could also impact all agreements India is negotiating both bilaterally and multilaterally with the U.S., and the government will have to choose its future course factoring in the new U.S. behavior, especially after Mr. Trump withdrew from the U.N. Climate Change treaty (Paris Accord), the Trans-Pacific Partnership with East Asian trading partners.
    • In the case of the Paris Accord for example, India chose to stick to its commitments on reducing its carbon footprint, despite the fact that the Trump administration had dispensed with the funding commitments that were made by the previous Obama administration in order to convince India to sign on to the climate change agreements ahead of time.
    • New Delhi will have to consider a new understanding of its ties with Washington in this context, and some of this understanding may be built during the first “2+2” dialogue between Foreign and Defence Ministers of both countries to be scheduled in the next few weeks in Washington.
             Balancing Role of India:
               New Delhi, for its part, enjoys cordial relations with all the actors involved:
  1. The Chabahar port is a joint venture between India, Afghanistan and Iran;
  2. India is a major defence procurer from Israel and enjoys deep ties with Saudi Arabia.
  3. New Delhi must, of course, balance its relations with the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel on the one hand and Iran on the other, keeping its own strategic interests in mind.
  4. But as an emerging global power in its own right, India can also use its influence and strategic weight with the actors in West Asia to help move towards a détente in the region.

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