15:27 GMT06 March 2021
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    On 5 January, Iran announced that it was rolling back its nuclear deal commitments and would enrich uranium based on its technical needs amid an ongoing escalation of tensions with Washington following the assassination of the Quds force commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike on Friday morning.

    Mahan Abedin, an Iran analyst at the Middle East Eye and director of Dysart Consulting, reflects on the consequences Tehran's decision to scale back on its nuclear deal obligations could have on international security. 

    Sputnik: Iran announced on Sunday that it was discontinuing its remaining obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. How will this affect the JCPOA itself and what response can we expect from Europe and other countries in the deal?

    Mahan Abedin: I think it was very clear yesterday what Iran announced. It was the fifth and final step. And Iran will no longer be held back by the terms and conditions of the JCPOA. So basically, from the Iranian point of view, the deal is no more. However, Iran also left the room to go back into the deal. As long as the Europeans meet their obligations specifically, as long as they remove, well, not remove sanctions because the Europeans obviously haven't imposed sanctions. But as long as the Europeans ensure that Iran benefits from the terms and conditions of the original deal, if they can do that, then Iran will go back into the JCPOA.

    Sputnik: So how can Europe ensure that Iran can go back to the deal?

    Mahan Abedin: Well, that's a good question. Obviously, they can’t. So for the past 18 months, the big issue has been that the Europeans have not kept to their side of the bargain. They're trying to put pressure on Iran, but they haven't put any pressure on the Americans who breached the deal in May 2018 and imposed these sanctions. So it was an unfair situation. Iran gave the Europeans plenty of time to address it. In fact, Iran remained compliant with the deal for a full year before commencing gradual easing of restrictions. But I think that the events of the past week accelerated that process.

    Protesters burn a U.S. flag during a demonstration over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020
    © AP Photo / Vahid Salemi
    Protesters burn a U.S. flag during a demonstration over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 3, 2020

    Sputnik: Yesterday Iraqi parliament vowed to end foreign military presence in the country. What does this decision mean for the US and its allies, and for the region itself?

    Mahan Abedin: I think this is a very big move by any measure. Iraq is essentially telling the Americans to leave. Donald Trump has come out today and said that Iraq needs to pay for that expensive airbase in Balad, which he claims cost billions of dollars before they leave. Donald Trump clearly wants to stay, but I think now the Iraqis can say, well, we passed this motion in parliament. If the US continues to stay in Iraq is an occupation power. So resistance against American presidents will become legitimate. And I think Iraqi groups within the popular mobilisation units or other groups, they will not take action against the Americans to force them out.

    Sputnik: Pompeo has also blasted Europe for the reaction to the killing of General Soleimani. How will this affect the cooperation between Washington and Europe?

    Mahan Abedin: I think the Europeans are trying to play it safe to try to steer a middle course if you like, but they have to some extent sympathise with the American position. They complained about Iran's so-called destabilising activity without addressing American provocation and also the American terrorist act in killing Major General Soleimani. So I don't see European American relations being affected badly. If anything, they've come closer together.

    Sputnik: What further steps can we expect from Washington and Iran? How will the situation develop in the near future?

    Mahan Abedin: It's a very fluid situation. It's very unpredictable. It's hard to say. But Iran has made it very clear that people will retaliate for the terrorist assassination of Major General Soleimani. So I think the world should expect a big move. There's going to be retaliation. And of course, Donald Trump has threatened retaliation in kind. But no matter how big the U.S. threat, this is not going to deter Iran from taking revenge and avenging the assassination of Soleimani. So I think the world should expect a very big move in that regard.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    US sanctions, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), United Kingdom, European Union, US, Iran
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