Iran Nuclear Deal Is Stalled; Russia Takes Advantage

iran nuclear deal
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Israeli Alternate PM and Defense Minister Benny Gantz deliver statements at the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, April 11, 2021. (Photo credit: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem)

September 8, 2022

The United States has signaled to Israel that a revived Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran is off “for the time being,” The Times of Israel reported, via its sister site Zman Yisrael. The proposed return to the 2015 Obama administration nuclear deal has been temporarily suspended, Biden administration officials reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. 

Israeli security officials Defense Minister Benny Gantz, national security adviser Eyal Hulata, and Mossad Chief David Barnea have visited Washington to “discuss the Iranian file,” Al Monitor reported. 

Meetings reportedly followed an announcement by European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell that a deal “would not be reached as quickly as thought.” A pause on the deal was announced after speculation from world media outlets that the United States and Iran were on “the verge of  diplomatic breakthrough.”

Earlier this week, Congressman Josh Gotthheimer (D-NJ) led a bipartisan letter signed by 50 members of Congress asking the Biden administration to provide Congress with “a full text copy” of the deal including any side agreements in discussion. 

“We are deeply concerned about multiple provisions that reportedly may be contained in the final language of any agreement with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” the Congressmembers wrote, in a September 1 letter to President Biden.

The letter criticized proposed sanctions-relief for “non-U.S. persons” doing business with Iran as part of the deal’s terms. The Congressmembers warned that, if Iran was strengthened by trillions of dollars of sanction relief over the decade,  the deal posed would pose a great risk to Americans. 

“Additionally, it has been reported that under this proposed deal, Russia will be the de facto judge of compliance and the keeper of Iran’s enriched uranium, without any oversight mechanisms by the United States or our European partners,” wrote the Congressmembers. 

Moscow’s hand in Iran deal negotiations has drawn scrutiny and speculation from world security experts. 

Russia has been “a key partner” in the new Iran deal’s discussions, Seth J. Frantzman at The Jerusalem Post wrote. However, since negotiations started, Russia has launched its incursion on Ukraine. The Kremlin has since “colonized” the Iran nuclear deal in its effort to benefit from sanctions relief, Frantzman claimed. 

In an earlier analysis, Frantzman noted that Russia had become “the hand behind the deal,” and has allegedly used Iran’s nuclear capacity as a “blackmail piggybank” against the United States and other Western powers, who have mediated attempts to return to the deal. 

Frantzman analyzed that Russia was “playing good cop,” during negotiations, which led to the U.S. envoy outsourcing some of its demands to Moscow. Frantzman claimed that Russia had played “ a golden hand” at the negotiation table, and had used diplomatic tricks “as the mafia boss” behind the entire plan to return to the 2015 deal. Russia, he wrote, will now use Iran as a “nuclear blackmail shield” against the United States. 

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