Iran and terrorism after the US nuclear deal withdrawal

Updated: May 17, 2018


What is the relation between Iran and terrorism? Is it possible to negotiate a new deal? Check out the answers.

What is the link between Iran and terrorism?

According to the annual US State Department report, Iran remains the main State sponsoring terrorism. Iran follows a strategy of destabilizing the Middle East: fueling conflicts in Iraq, supporting the Syrian regime and war (2011-present), taking a part in the war in Yemen (2015-present) and supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran is able to sustain the capabilities to conduct international terrorism out of its borders and the region. Even if it is not a direct threat to the US, it still affects American interests by striking US assets abroad (war zones). As it was stated by James Clappers, Director of National Intelligence in 2016 ‘Iran—the foremost state sponsor of terrorism—continues to exert its influence in regional crises in the Middle East through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps—Quds Force (IRGC-QF), its terrorist partner Lebanese Hezbollah, and proxy groups’. Iran’s main goal remains to implement and to export the Islamic revolution to the world.


President Trump announced on May 8th, 2018 the withdrawal of the nuclear deal with Iran. What are the main positions of the US allies regarding the deal?

The UK, France, and Germany and and their European partners have expressed their regret and concerns about Trump’s decision and underlined Iran's concession with the deal, as well as their continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally known. Turkish President Erdogan admitted that these new developments might create a new crisis and destabilize the Middle East.

Moscow considers the US decision a violation of the JCPOA and affirms that US ‘claims Iran's absolutely legitimate nuclear activities are just a cover for keeping political scores with the country’. Overall, Russia and China support the Iranian position: the country can develop a ballistic missile program and claims these activities out of the deal (JCPOA).

On their side, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have welcomed the US announcement. Tension in the region is increasing between Iran and Israel and between Iran and Saudi Arabia.


How are the new US sanctions being snapped back ?

The nuclear sanctions (see detailed measures here) will be reimposed in 2 phases. Some, including the financial measures, will go into effect within 90 days (August 6th, 2018), others, including energy and transport related sanctions, within 180 days (November 4th, 2018). All individuals and entities will also be designated again within 180 days. Necessary guidance is being provided to banks, companies and third countries.

The main US objective - including by taking new terrorism related sanctions - is to isolate Iran and to put pressure on the regime to force it to negotiate a new comprehensive deal. Trump has warned of very severe consequences if Iran restarts its nuclear program.


What were the basic lines of the Iran deal?

The JCPOA basically requires to cut weapons-grade uranium stockpiles, allow inspections, and reduce centrifuges, in exchange for Iran to get economic benefits following the lifting of UN and US sanctions and the return of up to 100B$ in frozen funds.


What are the biggest problems to negotiate now a new deal with Iran?

It will be very difficult to bring Iran to discuss a better deal because given the current events the Iranian regime has no trust in the US. The situation is even more complicated due to the difficulties of bringing the Chinese, the Russians and the Europeans to the negotiation table again.


How is the relation of the US with its Middle East allies?

Middle East countries have been kept aside of the decision-making process. It would be a mistake to consider the relations with the Gulf countries, for instance, only as a relation based on money, gas and oil. Saudi Arabia is defending its own security as a country, considering its dangerous neighbor, Iran. Saudi Arabia also provides to some allies (EU, UK), valuable intelligence information to combat terrorism.

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