August 16, 2022

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US needs Iran deal for focusing on East Asia: John Hopkins Prof.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA on Wednesday, Professor Vali Reza Nasr said that there is an opportunity to find a breakthrough in reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Professor Vali Nasr is a renowned political thinker and analyst of international affairs, who was advisor of Barack Obama in 2008 presidential elections and became consultant of Richard Holbrooke, former United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Asked about Israeli regime’s attempts to get in the way of reviving the nuclear deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Professor Nasr told IRNA that the US and Iran have their viewpoints that can be interpreted in terms of fairness with regard to outcome of talks according to their viewpoints, how they want to benefit from the final JCPOA agreement and thirdly the impact of the final agreement on their own domestic stances.

Emphasizing that diplomacy is not independent from domestic policies, he noted that diplomacy is not being performed in vacuum, because any agreement or accord in Vienna or elsewhere will bring about domestic reflections in the US and Iran. 

The problems that the JCPOA faced when it came to implementation process, were domestic affairs of the US and Iran, he said, adding that internal affairs played the role of a stumbling block in this respect, and that the internal issues are still in place.

Diplomats participate in negotiations, but they should be able to meet their policy-makers’ demands, the professor said, noting that sometimes, policy-makers give more importance to domestic stability than international agreements.

He said that there is a window open to reach a consensus on the revival of the JCPOA following six rounds of talks in Vienna, Austria, by another administration in Tehran, and now a new team are attending the talks; definitely, Iran proposes new stances in the way of negotiating, as well as their suggestions.

He argued that the US has gradually reached the conclusion that assurances in the initial nuclear deal may not fit the current situation anymore.

Professor Nasr is of the opinion that it is very hard for both sides to reach consensus in a short period of time, because the two states need a nuclear agreement, which can resolve all technical issues.

With regard to economic sanctions on Iran, the international analyst believes that Iranians have been successful to resist when it came to maximum pressures, but it is a fact that sanctions can lead to poverty and stop investment in societies like what happened in Iraq from 1990 to 2003.

The Islamic Republic requires to improve its own economy and lift the economic pressure in order to be able to play a key role in political and economic affairs of the region, when the US is no more involved in the West Asia region, he noted.

A nuclear agreement with Iran that gives the US an opportunity to see a minimum stability in the region will be helpful in order to be capable to focus on the East Asia region, the academic said.

The United States’ plans to pull out military forces from Afghanistan and reduce troops in Iraq have not been merely the Biden administration’s policy, because these projects date back to the Obama administration and even the start of the JCPOA talks, Nasr said, arguing that the kickstart of nuclear talks has its roots in the United States’ plan to transfer its military forces and pursue the Pivot to Asia strategy.

The administration of the then President Barack Obama sought to end tensions with Iran in a bid to be able to focus on East Asia region, he said, adding that former US President Donald Trump pursued the same de-escalation policy in an irregular manner, which ended up in fanning the flame of escalations with both Iran and China.

Incumbent US President Joe Biden follows up the same strategy, because American foreign policy is no more based on the way of thinking that the West Asia region is of great economic and geostrategic significance, Nasr stipulated.

The future of world macro policy will be formed in an atmosphere of confrontation between the United States from one side and China and Russia from the other side, he said.

According to the senior analyst, James Mattis, former US Secretary of Defense in Trump administration, proposed a new military doctrine, which underlines that fight against terrorism and Middle East affairs should be less important, and the US foreign policy should focus on rivalry with great powers namely China and Russia.

The West Asia region is witnessing a change, he said, noting that after years of gaps between Iran and certain Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, they are trying to find ways out of the current situation and take the responsibility to resolve regional issues, he said.

Tensions between Iran and Arab states are not only related to nuclear issues but also include differences on conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, which can be resolved through regional negotiations, he mentioned. 

Following any breakthrough in nuclear issue, the US and Europe will be motivated to promote countries in West Asia to assist Iran to resolve regional problems, he said, adding that Iran’s nuclear issue and regional disputes are different matters, but at the same time they are related to each other.


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