February 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S., IAEA Hold Out Hope for Revived JCPOA

February 8, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S., IAEA Hold Out Hope for Revived JCPOA

Latest Developments

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday called for the revival of talks focused on limiting Iran’s nuclear program. “I hope to be able to re-set, restore, reinforce that indispensable dialogue,” said Rafael Grossi. “Without that, things are going to get worse.” Grossi’s statement aligns with the Biden administration’s interest in resuscitating the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite nationwide protests in Iran demanding regime change.

Expert Analysis

“The regime in Tehran sees Western desperation for a deal as a green light for escalation on all fronts — terrorism, enrichment, complicity in Russian war crimes, and human rights abuses. The era of appeasement should end. An era of accountability and deterrence should follow.”
Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“The United States and its allies need to recognize that a revival of the JCPOA would exacerbate the very problems it purports to resolve. In a few short years, the deal’s already weak verification measures would expire, endowing Tehran with a legalized industrial-scale nuclear program. Meanwhile, flush with sanctions relief, Iran would emerge as the dominant power in the Middle East, thereby destabilizing the region and tightening its grip on power.”
Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor

The West Is Still Pursuing Dialogue With Iran

Grossi’s statement comes in the wake of reports that U.S. envoy Robert Malley has recently conducted at least three meetings with Saeed Iravani, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York. In late January, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, indicated that Tehran has received messages through Qatar from parties to the JCPOA. “Qatar has been always passing on messages about the return of the JCPOA parties to their commitments. Today, we received JCPOA-related messages from the Qatari side,” he said. Earlier this week, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said he has not given up hope of restoring the JCPOA, arguing that his critics “don’t value enough” the dangers of a nuclear Iran.

Revived JCPOA Would Aid Regime

A renewed JCPOA would provide an economic lifeline to the regime in Iran, allowing Tehran to access up to $275 billion in financial benefits during its first year and $1 trillion by 2030. This infusion of cash would enable the regime to increase its aggression abroad, including its facilitation of Russian war crimes, and repression at home. Iran’s brutality in suppressing protesters, including several high-profile executions, has spurred a reduction in demonstrations over the past month. In this context, a revived JCPOA would likely legitimize the regime on the international stage, thereby emboldening Tehran and further demoralizing protesters.

Related Analysis

Strategy for a New Comprehensive U.S. Policy on Iran,” edited by Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie

Maximum Support for the Iranian People: A New Strategy,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad, Richard Goldberg, Tzvi Kahn, and Behnam Ben Taleblu


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