US pullout from nuclear deal worsens stability in Mideast

By Zhang Yuan Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/15 21:28:41

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was on Sunday in China, one of the stops in his rushed trip after US President Donald Trump announced quitting the Iran nuclear deal. The external political and security dynamics of Iran are in a flux with diplomacy facing enormous challenges. Trump's vaunted withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal is destabilizing the Middle East and even the globe.

The Iran nuclear deal - the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - is a crucial multilateral achievement. It is an example of an attempt to ease international crisis through multilateral political negotiations. The agreement means that major countries are willing to work toward peacefully resolving hot button issues. Thanks to the Barack Obama government, the deal was signed toward the end of his presidency and the results brought about by the agreement have benefited more than the eight signatories.

The US withdrawal from the deal disrespects multilateral diplomacy. It may create fresh chaos in an already volatile region and jeopardize world peace. Every multilateral agreement is a binding international document that has come about as a result of repeated discussions and consultation among various parties, and is signed after consensus among the parties. All the parties are bound to make compromises and concessions. The US withdrawal, however, has put paid to the possibility of future communication and negotiations between Washington and Tehran, and the likelihood of the two finding a solution under the multilateral framework is highly impossible. 

Zarif's visit signaled Iran's resolve to stick to the nuclear deal despite the new crisis generated by Trump's controversial decision to come out of the agreement.

Weeks before Trump announced he would abandon the deal, officials from France, Germany and the UK visited the US to dissuade him from doing so. The three EU nations have recognized the indispensable role the deal plays in the fight against nuclear proliferation. However, it is unfortunate that they failed to stop Trump and after withdrawing from the agreement, the US announced it is preparing stricter sanctions on Tehran. The move will affect many European companies that have trade ties with Iran and force the belief that other EU countries may come out of the agreement.

Beijing and Tehran have always maintained friendly relations. The Chinese government's proposal has played a significant role in resolving the Iranian nuclear logjam. China can provide a platform for political peace talks and help find a solution. It supports all sides staying within the deal, so as to jointly share the responsibility of alleviating the security dilemma in the Middle East.

The Iran nuclear deal remains even with the US jumping ship. As long as other signatories keep the deal alive, Tehran can keep obeying it. But the premise is that European countries, Russia and China must withstand the impending pressure from Washington. If more countries withdraw from the deal, Iran will threaten to restart its nuclear program, derailing efforts of the international community to curb confrontation in the Middle East.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University.

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