Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a television address in Tehran, Iran, October 13, 2017. .
(photo credit: HANDOUT/REUTERS)
There is zero chance that Tehran will agree to renegotiate its nuclear accord with the West, an Iran expert told The Jerusalem Post on Friday, responding to US President Donald Trump’s decertification of the deal.
IDC Herzliya’s Meir Javedanfar, editor of the Iran-Israel Observer, said that, despite decertification, Trump has no leverage over the Islamic Republic since he lacks global support for “snapping back” any serious sanctions.
“There is no need for them [the Iranians] to renegotiate and there is nothing America can do to force them... America will not be able to impose the same tough financial sanctions which were imposed before the  Iran nuclear deal again, because America will be isolated and the Europeans will not support” it.
“As long as those sanctions will not be reimposed with European backing, Iran will have zero motivation to want to renegotiate anything,” Javedanfar said.
Trump is the only leader of the parties that signed the nuclear accord who has argued that Tehran has violated the spirit of the agreement with its missile testing and military adventures in the Middle East – with France, Germany, Britain, Russia, China and the IAEA all saying Iran is in compliance.
Iran was compelled to make concessions as part of the deal not merely by the sanctions on its oil sector, but by the SWIFT payments network sanctions that isolated its central bank from the international banking system, Javedanfar said. Restoring these sanctions that really hurt Iran is not on the table without EU support, he said.
But Trump’s lack of leverage in decertifying the deal does not mean the US and its allies could not work together in the future to pressure Iran on issues related to its nuclear program that were not part of the deal, he said.
Missile testing is different. There could be negotiations about missile testing, but again that is not going to be part of decertification – “what Trump is doing is creating divisions within the P5+1, which means for now Iran is not going to negotiate on those either, but you have to wait and see if the financial sanctions can be reimposed against Iran with the help of the Europeans,” he said.
Still, he said that the EU working with Trump to press Iran about its ballistic missile testing “is unlikely, because Trump is now distancing the Europeans. He is pushing them away with the decertification... The chances of renegotiation over Iran’s missiles are now less than before. Trump is weakening the coalition against Iran with his move.”
Additional fallout from the decertification was that Trump was strengthening “hard-liners in Iran. It will weaken the moderates.
We already see this in process,” Javedanfar said, noting that a member of Iran’s nuclear deal negotiating team has now been accused by hard-line elements of spying for the West.
The Revolutionary Guard Corps has also accused other negotiators of spying, he said.
“All of this is to isolate [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani and to punish him for the JCPOA [nuclear deal]... We are going to see the hard-liners isolating the moderates even more and the moderates will have to fall in line much more with the hard-liners... Rouhani, who criticized the IRGC before, is already complimenting them,” Javedanfar said.
Tehran may also just wait and see what Congress decides to do over the next 60 days, in which it can either reimpose US sanctions on Iran (even without allied support), take a pass or leave the issue open indefinitely.
In a rare interview, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told Politico on October 2 that if Trump tried to unravel the nuclear agreement, Iran would consider everything, from “walking away from the deal to somehow accommodating Europe.”
Zarif also said that Iran was more focused on Congress than Trump.
“It’s up to Congress to adopt any decision, or not to adopt any decision, and I believe in the past a Republican Congress had this idea to let the nuclear agreement stay, as did our parliament... It had decided in the past not to take action; it can decide again,” Zarif said.