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Mark Fitzpatrick: Next US president can't be able to waive the JCPOA

Aug 23, 2016, 9:28 AM
News ID: 1975
Mark Fitzpatrick: Next US president can't be able to waive the JCPOA

EghtesadOnline: Former Deputy to US Secretary of State Mark Fitzpatrick said that because JCPOA is an eight-party deal, next US president will not waive it.

The full text of his interview with ISNA comes as follows:

Q: In your opinion, does JCPOA made any changes in Iran's role and power in the region? If so, is it tactical or strategic?


A: Being limited to the nuclear matters, the terms of the JCPOA do not address Iran’s regional role.  However, the communication channels established by the JCPOA and the trust that developed among the parties to the negotiation do provide a means for Iran to be involved constructively in discussions about regional problems.  This has already happened to a limited degree with regard to the conflict in Syria; it is now recognized that Iran must be part of any peace discussions.

Whether the JCPOA leads to a tactical or a strategic change in Iran’s role, or even whether it happens at all, depends largely on Iran’s policy choices.  There is now a possibility for a positive transformation of Iran’s role.  On the other hand, many of Iran’s neighbors worry that Iran will use this opportunity and the economic benefits of the JCPOA to further what they see as hegemonic impulses.

Q: it seems that both side specifically US and Iran tired of resolving problems and ambiguities or consider such efforts pointless and now we see the officials from both sides take positions or speak through media.
Why the potential of resolving the problems in joint commissions moved to the media?basically do you believe it is true? Is JCPOA is facing to a failure?

A: The JCPOA is the most complex nonproliferation agreement ever negotiated. I never thought the agreement would be reached, and I am pessimistic that it will last for 15 years.  There are many ways that it could unravel, for reasons both directly related to the terms of the deal and for completely external reasons, such as disagreements between Iran and its protagonists over missile launches, regional conflicts or human right abuses.

At this point, however, I do not want to be too negative.  Based on a factual assessment, one has to say ‘so far, so good’.  Since implementation day in January, all parties have fulfilled their obligations.  The complaints that both Iran and Western states have about the other’s fulfillment of the spirit of the deal are being addressed in various forums, both multilateral and bilateral.  The officials I have spoken with are pleased with the seriousness of these conversations.  They certainly do not see them as pointless.  Given the intense political interest in these matters, it is natural that both sides are also airing complaints in public.  This should not be seen as evidence of lack of trust or of a failure of the JCPOA.


Q: As you know ,we witnessed chink of Iran’s secret nuclear information by associated press and this followed by Iran’s objection to IAEA and six world powers .Iranian officials emphasized that chink of this information is in contrast with JCPOA spirit that can lead to mistrust between two sides.
In your opinion, how six world powers should be committed to maintain the security of the details of the deal and negotiations and basically is this effective in procedure of enforcement the deal?

A: The leak to the Associated Press of the JCPOA document about Iran’s nuclear R&D plans is a minor matter that should not undermine trust among the parties.  I do not think the document should have been classified to begin with, since it was an integral part of the deal.  And I am surprised it was not leaked earlier.  It is important to note that key members of the US Congress who were shown the document last year did not disclose its content.  The fact that they protected the confidentiality shows the importance the United States attached to the JCPOA.

I expect that from time to time there will be further leaks of confidential information, including from the IAEA. If so, Iran will rightfully complain.  So far, however, the IAEA has been strict in keeping secret the information that Iran is providing under the JCPOA verification procedures.

Q: When the nuclear agreement reached on July 2015, some of Arab states on Persian Gulf and Israel express their concerns about the deal and made every effort to sabotage in the negotiations and later in the procedure of enforcement of JCPOA.

Is the nuclear deal a threat to the interests of these states or in the regions or it can lead to the peace,strengthen security and non-proliferation in middle east?

A: The JCPOA provides a basis for hope in a positive transformation of Iran’s role in the region in ways that would promote peace, stability and non-proliferation.  This remains but a dream, however.  Meanwhile, there is a countervailing nightmare. If Iran were to use the economic benefits of the JCPOA to strengthen its military capabilities and to increase its support for groups engaged in regional conflicts, then Arab states and other countries would have good reason to oppose the deal.  So far, it is hard to say that Iran is using the JCPOA benefits for such purposes.  It is dismaying, however, that since the JCPOA went into effect, Iran’s involvement in regional conflicts has not abated. There is even evidence that Iran has become more aggressive, toward Bahrain, for example.


Q. Why US efforts and negotiations with Arab states in the region before the deal could not make any changes in lowering their concern about the JCPOA?

A: US diplomatic efforts did, in fact, have a positive result, in that almost all Arab states publicly applauded the JCPOA.  But many Arab leaders privately, and sometimes not so privately, continued to harbor doubts.  Centuries of mutual animosity based on Arab-Persian cultural clashes and Sunni-Shite conflicts will not dissipate quickly.  Countries in the Middle East tend to have a zero-sum mentality, seeing any gain for an adversary to be a loss for themselves.  In fact, the JCPOA holds the potential for a win-win outcome for all parties.  Both Iran and its Arab neighbors will need to make a serious effort at dialogue to address their differences.    

Q: Many in Iran and even in US are concerned about the new administration in US and specifically if Donald Trump takes the power.if so ,could trump waive the nuclear deal?

A: The JCPOA is an agreement among eight parties, so a new US president could not unilaterally abrogate the deal.  However, the president could stop implementing sanctions relief, which would cause a crisis both with Iran and with America’s allies and other partners.  Despite Donald Trump’s loud denunciations of the JCPOA, I doubt that he would want to start a presidential term by sparking such a crisis.  More likely, he would seek to renegotiate provisions of the deal, including by adding restrictions on ballistic missile launches.

Q. How do you see the JCPOA as an agreement which solve the situation that

potentially could lead to conflict and tension?

A: If concerns over Iran’s nuclear program had not been resolved, there was a strong possibility that concerned states would have taken military action to stop the program.  If the JCPOA is broken and Iran resumes unrestricted enrichment in ways that bring it close to being able to produce nuclear weapons, then prospects for military conflict over the program will again heighten.  So it is important that the JCPOA is implemented thoroughly.