When signed as an international accord between Iran and six world powers, the nuclear deal was an outstanding demonstration of global-scale diplomacy. The unique agreement between a regional player and world powers sealed just two years ago has seen its foundations becoming shaky after the new US President took office and is about to collapse every moment however.
What undermined this agreement so rapidly? Did Iran use the deal, as Trump has said, as a means to expand its influence in the region and destabilize the region? Or has Trump chosen this path just to live up to his presidential campaign promises of scraping the deal? Why do European powers, flag-bearers of diplomacy and deals without wars, are taking increasingly ambiguous stances towards the agreement as we approach the May 12 deadline? Or has Iran’s ambitious policies in the region curbed the possibility to continue the deal?
Taking into account Ankara’s intervention policy in Syria in the recent months, the so-called Operation Olive Branch, Iran’s regional ambitions cannot be a good cause for global confrontation. Seen in the context of present evidence, putting together the jigsaw pieces of how the main players in the nuclear deal are acting, one could conclude that Trump has no problem with the deal per se but uses it as a pretext in order to turn Iran into a submissive player, aligned with Washington’s policies. On the other hand, Russia also needs a strong regional player for its policy in the Middle East, for which Iran is the best option.
Iran’s behavior suggests that the country will never agree to lose its regional role even at the cost of losing the deal. Thus, none of the three sides to this complex equation wants to collaborate with another. These tensions will remain in place until Trump makes his decision about leaving the deal in May.
Iran will be neither a winner nor a loser in this. Not a winner as it failed to preserve a global-scale diplomacy and not a loser because the deal had yet to yield results for the country. The nuclear deal was a good opportunity to establish links with the world and losing it could at least have negative economic impacts. Economically speaking, Iran is not in a good state and sanctions could make the nation suffer. Perhaps European leaders, who still find Iran economically profitable for themselves, could talk Trump out of walking out of the deal. Modification may be not a good option but is appropriate, given the state of economy and welfare in the country. Iranian leaders should be able to weigh the benefits and losses and choose a proper solution for the economy.