Iran nuclear deal – back to the negotiating table – The Weekly 47

We can safely say that one of former US President Barack Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievements was to hammer out the Iran nuclear deal. Iran has been a particularly hard nut to crack for many internationally renowned politicians: what can you do with a regional power that prefers to go its own way, is hard to agree with on many issues but is nonetheless vital for the stability of the Middle Eastern region?

In 2015, the Obama administration decided to take a major step by striking the nuclear deal and abandoning the unsuccessful policy of sanctions.

Despite being applied since 1979, not only have the sanctions failed to break the Iranian system, but the Ayatollahs’ fundamentalist regime has in fact solidified completely, while the international isolation did nothing to make Tehran de-intensify any of the conflicts at all. On the contrary, it just further fuelled the fire in the Persian state leaders’ hearts.

Coming to an understanding with Iran, which traditionally has a huge cultural and political influence in the Middle East, was absolutely essential for any nuclear deal. We can all remember how the Islamic State terrorist organization achieved its biggest military success in 2015, creating a quasi state from Syria to Iraq.

The nuclear deal was a win for all parties: Iran gained some new prospects through the loosening sanctions and was allowed to return to the international political and economic arena, while the West and Israel could relax seeing that there was a way to keep the Iranian nuclear programme under control.

We all know that reasonable compromises hardly fit the political toolkit of populism that prefers to rely on pompous slogans, creating enemy images and voicing radical opinions, but Donald Trump’s unilateral 2018 abandonment of the deal was a vastly irresponsible act even by his own unique standards. The response did not take long: Iran soon announced its withdrawal from the agreement, too.

Considering these circumstances, I was very happy to read that the other participants of the nuclear deal are already conducting talks on bringing the US back to the table and, furthermore, that the process was initiated by the European Union and chaired by an EU diplomat. I believe the US’ return to the Iran deal is just as significant as the birth of the agreement was back in 2015 because, unfortunately, the issues related to Iran and the Middle East are just as pressing as they were six years ago.

It would also be a great step for the new Biden administration which is widely expected to achieve no less than bringing calmness and stability after the chaotic and unpredictable Trump era. 

It would be a highly preferred outcome since the US foreign policy has unfortunately been rather more successful in destabilizing the Middle East over the past decades. Therefore, the return to the nuclear deal would actually be more than just returning to the earlier US policy; it could be a major step forward.

As a European, I am glad to see that our community is able to take a leading role in settling a conflict of such magnitude because I am convinced that Europe cannot remain strong in the 21st century unless she is able to demonstrate her geopolitical weight. This is vital for us, not just for our prestige but also because it is the interest of the 450 million European people to be involved in the decisions on the world and to represent the European interests. I trust that European diplomacy, lead by Josep Borrell, will be able to do so. - MÁRTON GYÖNGYÖSI (Iran nuclear deal – back to the negotiating table – The Weekly 47 - Gyöngyösi Márton (