Need for preventive diplomacy in Iran–US relations; Expert

News code : ۱۰۶۹۴۳۹

A professor of international relations told ILNA news agency that there is a diplomatic dance between the US and Iran at the moment, which will continue for some time. However, it is to be expected that given that the number one priority of the USA is the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons it is likely to return to the agreement.

Speaking to ILNA news agency, the professor of Mahidol University International College in Thailand, Robin Ramcharan said "Almost three months into the Biden Administration, it has not rushed to re-join the JCPOA for a number of reasons.

He added that First, as Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman intimated in her confirmation hearings in the US Senate Biden may wish to widen the agreement beyond nuclear weapons to include missiles and possibly to review the sunset clause, under which restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme would be lifted after 2025. Whether this is the case remains to be seen, especially in the context of US domestic politics which requires that the incoming administration should not anger the Senate, in particular republicans Senators and should develop a cooperative relationship. It is possible that the administration is  adopting these tough and hesitant postures so as to deal with other matters first.

"This points to the second and more immediate reason, that the Biden Administration has an urgent and  massive domestic political issue to confront; first: the coronavirus crisis in the United States, which was badly mishandled by the previous administration leading to over half a million deaths.  If he does not get this right his administration will sink. To secure the relief packages for the working class people of America he needed a non-hostile US Senate. Signaling a tough stance on Iran, even if softly, is not inconsistent with this priority," he confirmed.

Ramcharan continued that a third reason is that it should be noted that Biden, who served a very pragmatic and realist President Obama, is no starry-eyed “do-gooder”. He is likely to prove as realist and pragmatic, all the while working through diplomatic and multilateral channels.  The flyover of the Middle East by two B-52s bombers along with other nations, including Israel, is an early signal of his mettle and modus-operandi.

"The current administration is cognizant of the complexities of the JCPOA, as they negotiated it, and of the complexities of the Agreement’s interplay in the context of not only US politics but also Iranian politics. It understands well that Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is a leading moderate along with President Rouhani."

Pointing to the Iran next Presidential election, the professor of international relations said "It understands well that elections are coming up in Iran in June 2021. One would expect some concessions from the United States so as not to negatively impact leading moderates, such as Zarif, who staked their reputations on the JCPOA."

"However, preventive diplomacy measures need to be undertaken. Iran could call upon the UN Secretary General to exercise his good-offices to facilitate the discussions and to explore avenues for dialogue and compromise."

"Iran and the United States will need to prevent their diplomatic row from falling prey to the China-US confrontation that is heating up. The recent China-US dialogue in Alaska signaled Washington’s continued tough stance towards Beijing, albeit with a different tone than under the Trump Administration."

"Joe Biden was present when the US decided on its pivot to Asia, to confront China. The US is not averse to imposing sanctions on Iran and Chinese companies for going against its sanctions, for example in the area of oil trading. China is not averse to challenging US hegemony, especially in the South China Sea. Iran should not get caught in this fight of titans," he added.

He stressed that Iran and the United States can return to a positive relationship, including on the JCPOA; adding "Preventive diplomacy is especially needed as the two countries will remain in confrontation for a long time."