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Joint comprehensive plan of action was signed in 2015 between Iran and P5+ 1 however, the former US President has withdrawn from it in the year 2018. The United States thus embarked on a policy of ‘maximum pressure’ to coerce Iran back to the negotiating table, which led to devastation of Iran’s economy. However, it failed to being Irna back for negotiations and toc curtail its movement in   Iraq, Syria, or Lebanon

 JCPOA:​Timeline & Background

  • The JCPOA was signed as the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 which include China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union, or the EU.

  • It was brokered by Oman, in an attempt to repair the accumulated mistrust since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

  • According to the terms of JCPOA, Iran was obliged to accept constraints on its enrichment program in return for a partial lifting of economic sanctions.

  • However,  the nuclear deal was not ratified by the US but was implemented on the basis of periodic Executive Orders to keep sanction waivers going.

  • However when Donald Trump became president, he withdrew from the deal, this decision was criticized by all other parties to the JCPOA (including the European allies) as Iran was in compliance with its obligations, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

  • Tensions increased when the U.S. pushed ahead with its unilateral sanctions and widened the scope to cover nearly all Iranian banks connected to the global financial system, industries related to metallurgy, energy, and shipping, individuals related to the defense, intelligence, and nuclear establishments.

  • Iran initially remained muted to the sanctions but after a year changed its policy to maximum resistance’.

 Iran’s Policy of ‘Maximum Resistance’.

  • In May 2019, Iran started to move away from JCPOA’s constraints incrementally: 

    • It exceeds the ceilings of 300kg on low-enriched uranium and 130 MT on heavy-water

    • It raised enrichment levels from 3.67% to 4.5%.

    • Further research and development on advanced centrifuges began.

    • It violates the limits on the number of centrifuges in use.

  • In January 2020,  after the drone strike on commander Gen. Qasem Soleiman, Iran announced that it would no longer observe the JCPOA’s restraints.

  • This led to major geopolitical instability in the region and beyond.

 Roadblocks in Restoration of Deal

  • Regional Cold War Between Iran & Saudi Arabia: 

    • Saudi Arabia is the linchpin of US Middle East policy. The US has strengthened its relationship with Saudi-Arabia to create a counterweight against Iran.

    • However, traditional conflict between Shia vs Sunni percolated into a regional cold war between Iran & Suadi Arabia.

    • Thus maintaining peace between the two regional rivals remains a major challenge for the US in order to restore the nuclear deal.

  • Iran increasing nuclear programme: 

    • Iran is in violation of several of its important commitments, such as the limits on stockpiles of enriched uranium.

    • The International Atomic Energy Agency observed that Iran now had more than 2,440 kilograms, which is actually more than eight times the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

    • Further, Iran is demanding from the US to pay for the billions of dollars in economic losses it incurred when the United States pulled itself out of the Iran deal in 2018.

Impacts on India For Restoration of JCPOA

  • Restoration of JCPOA can ease many restrictions over the Iranian regime which may directly or indirectly help India.For examples:

    • Boost to Regional Connectivity: 

      • Removing sanctions will aid in revival of India’s interest in the Bandar Abbas port, and other plans for regional connectivity.

      • This will help India to neutralize the Chinese presence in Gwadar port, Pakistan.

      • India’s interest in the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC), which runs through Iran, which aims at  improving connectivity with five Central Asian republics, may also get a boost.

    • Energy Security: 

      • After the US imposition of  Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), India has to bring down oil imports to zero.

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