Iran: JCPOA Has Always Been an ‘Empty Shell’



Iran nuclear facility
Written by
Mohammad Sadat Khansari

Following days of negotiations with the Iranian regime over its clandestine nuclear program, the European diplomats acknowledged that the nuclear deal with Tehran will soon be an “empty shell.”

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that European diplomat has underlined that “As of this moment, we still have not been able to get down to real negotiations.”

This acknowledgment once again highlights that negotiations with the regime to revive the highly flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA) are futile. “Time is running out. Without swift progress, in light of Iran’s fast-forwarding of its nuclear program, the JCPOA will very soon become an empty shell,” the European authorities underlined.

The negotiations had been delayed for five months following the appointment of Ebrahim Raisi but resumed at the start of the previous week, with the stated goal of restoring all parties’ compliance with the 2015 agreement.

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Enrique Mora, the European Union diplomat who chaired Thursday’s meeting, had made recognizable efforts to promote an optimistic outlook, saying afterward that he saw a “renewed sense of purpose” from all parties, regarding “the need to work and to reach an agreement on bringing the JCPOA back to life.” However, his commentary was preceded by remarks from British, French, German, and American diplomats which harshly criticized the Iranian regime for its excessive demands, lack of seriousness, and apparent refusal to compromise.

Officials from the French Foreign Ministry expressed concern that Tehran was “playing for time,” and warned that the regime would most likely continue to scale back its prior commitments if the negotiating process went on without a resolution. Their German counterparts urged Tehran to come back to the process on Thursday with “realistic proposals,” but there was no indication that the regime had heeded that advice.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reiterated the appeal on Wednesday, describing the following day’s talks as the start of Iran’s “last chance to sign up” and emphasizing that “it’s in their interests to do so.”

These remarks from the highest-level officials may indicate that the international community is preparing a final push to salvage the negotiating process by convincing Tehran of the need for compromise. So far, Iranian delegates to the talks have mainly reiterated their demand for the US to remove all sanctions that were imposed or re-imposed after then-President Donald Trump pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018.

Tehran has offered nothing in return but has suggested that negotiations over its own return to compliance should proceed only after sanctions relief has been verified. European and American participants in the talks all indicate that Tehran’s position has only hardened over the several days since negotiations resumed. Both Germany and France accused the regime of “abandoning compromises” that had supposedly been achieved during the six rounds of talks that took place before June.

Since the Biden administration assumed power in Washington and signaled its willingness to reenter the agreement its predecessor pulled out of, there has been no real question about any party’s desire to restore the JCPOA. The real question is only whether it is possible to restore that agreement in a way that is satisfying to all parties. And with each session of negotiations that concludes without Tehran moving from its initial position, it becomes increasingly apparent that the answer will ultimately be no.

As the Iranian Resistance has long been exposed, the regime in Tehran is racing toward an atomic bomb. The Iranian regime is playing with time to secretly advance its nuclear program.

Western powers should know that the JCPOA was an “empty shell” from the first day. The regime never abided by its commitments under the terms of the JCPOA.

In 2019, Ali Akbar Salehi, then the regime’s head of the Atomic Energy Organization, said: “They thought that they won the negotiation,” he said of Western signatories to the JCPOA. “But we had a countermeasure, and while we proceeded with the case, they didn’t achieve what they planned for, and we did not become trapped in the enrichment deadlock.”

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The recent efforts to revive the JCPOA have also proven to be in vain. After returning from Iran, Rafael Grossi, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that extensive talks in Iran on November 23 “proved inconclusive,” and that IAEA inspectors’ lack of access to the Karaj workshop is “seriously affecting the Agency’s ability to restore continuity of knowledge at the workshop.”

As the Iranian Resistance has underlined, “Only firmness could break this cycle. The six UN Security Council resolutions must be reactivated. The Iranian regime’s nuclear sites should be dismantled, and the regime should halt enriching uranium. The inspection, anywhere and anytime, should be implemented.”

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