Al-Monitor |; By now, it has escaped few that rather than a new beginning between Iran and the West, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has become another chapter in a long saga of broken promises. But beyond empty pledges on the part of Europe, and more so the United States — which withdrew from the landmark accord last May — the Iranians have also broken their promises to themselves.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s pledges with reference to the JCPOA are a case in point. Take his notable remarks from June 2016, only five months after the formal implementation date of the deal — and amid Donald Trump’s political ascendancy — in which he famously asserted, “Of course, individuals who have run for the US presidency are constantly threatening that they will tear it up. Well, if they tear it up, we will set it on fire!” He defiantly added, “We do not wish to violate it. However, if they violate it, we will violate it as well.”
Fast forward two and a half years, and the United States has left the accord while pressuring anyone who adheres to it, even if only in name. Yet the Islamic Republic remains committed to the JCPOA. In his June 2016 speech, Khamenei referred to the country’s nuclear program as a “strategic industry,” explicitly warning that Iran ought not adopt policies that will make its counterparts believe that “our hands are tied” albeit underscoring that “no rash measure should be adopted.” Mindful of these considerations, the logic behind Iran’s continued compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA has been based on two pillars: that strategic patience will pit Europe against the United States and that waiting out Trump is thus the best option. But this logic is becoming increasingly challenged.
Europe has shown itself to cower in the face of US pressure.