The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted a roundtable discussion about the future of the Iranian nuclear deal on 18th May 2018, with the participation of Erzsébet N. Rózsa PhD (associate research fellow, IFAT), Tamás Magyarics PhD (professor, Eötvös Loránd University) and Máté Szalai (research fellow, IFAT). The event was moderated by Péter Wagner PhD (senior research fellow, IFAT).
All three experts agreed that the nuclear agreement is still alive from the perspective of Iran. The main reason behind this is the fact that besides Russia and China, the European Union (EU) and its Member States also have economic interests in the country, so they are trying to strengthen their relations in an orderly manner, on the basis of mutual interests. If large European companies withdrew from the region due to the American economic sanctions, Iran would only strengthen its relations with Russia and China. Nonetheless, it is still questionable whether the EU can resist American economic pressure.
Furthermore, the experts also agreed that despite the American withdrawal from the agreement, a major conflict with Iran is in the interest of neither the United States and its Middle Eastern allies, nor Iran. The exact aims of Washington are yet to be seen, although it can be stated that this step taken by President Trump is not in line with the previously proclaimed transactional foreign policy thinking of the administration. The main reason behind the distrust of Iran is the Middle Eastern policy of the country and its nuclear program which, according to Erzsébet N. Rózsa, serves the purpose of deterring Iran’s regional rivals.
Finally, to answer the question if the Iranian nuclear agreement is indeed dead, the panelists agreed that for the time being it is not in the interest of the EU member states to tear the agreement up, moreover Russia or China would veto any collective sanctions in the UN Security Council against Iran. However, it is yet to be seen whether Iranian domestic political tendencies or growing American pressure could change the situation.