TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Analysts have extensively written on the issue. In a bid to render a clearer picture of the current state of affairs, I would like to predicate my analysis on political and legal arguments.
The political will on the part of all parties to the negotiations was ultimately embodied within the multilaterally negotiated Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which significantly drew upon the success of its predecessor the Joint Plan of Action.
As attested to by influential individuals and organizations, the JCPOA is a historic deal bringing one of the most contentious proliferation crises of the first decade of the twenty first century to a satisfactory end.
The NPT has been considered as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime according to which the International Atomic Energy has been tasked to monitor and verify Iranian side of the bargain. The IAEA has issued six reports confirming Iranian compliance with the deal thus far.
The European Union and other relevant international organizations staunchly support the implementation of the nuclear deal, and have applauded it as a collective achievement of the international community which cannot be reduced to a mere bilateral deal between two specific parties.
From the political standpoint, the top echelon of American administration is rather packed with neophytes lacking the fundamental rationality desperately required for political leadership; and from the legal point of view American possible unilateral exit would constitute a violation of International Law and the United Nations Security Council resolution.
Even if the US opted out of the nuclear deal, she would still be obliged by International Law and the United Nations Security Council Resolution to uphold and refrain from undermining the deal.
Any perceived action in this regard is arbitrarily a legal violation which will cost the US dearly in terms of her long term interests.
Veteran diplomats learn an abundance of lessons through the vicissitudes of their professional life and look fondly on their past experiences and, with the benefit of hindsight, might even laugh at their deeds.
However, 'inexperience' as a stage in natural evolution of a professional is one thing, and political callowness is quite another; sometimes a perniciously disastrous phenomenon.
The statesmen not very well-versed in the art of politics and without proper education prove to share four basic characteristics;
First, their reactions are driven by emotions and instincts fuelled by a deep-seated hatred for their predecessor whom they blame for the scorched earth they have left behind.
Second, they usually don't understand the rules of the game, and even if they do, they reduce them to mere red tape, cumbersome and superfluous. Since they cannot appreciate the benefits accrued from the international system, they tend to flout the established rules of behavior and embark on their own erratic track.
Third, the most mundane and widely known facts of the political world seem quite new to the unexperienced eyes of the newbie. Thus every day is a day they make discoveries. Fourth, political novices are immensely influenced by their circle of friends, folk and family.
The four traits mentioned here were not concocted to fit the US president. In addition to his idiosyncrasies, the American president is particularly notable for exhibiting the four qualities just mentioned.
He will eventually learn, and hopefully before it’s too late, that underneath the apparently simple glamour of foreign policy lies an overwhelmingly complex process.
He must appreciate the fact that his predecessors’ animosity towards Iran, if not more intense, was on a par with that of his, and that had they been able to fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program or even raze the whole country to the ground, they would have gladly done so. However, it should be borne in mind the US power does not make it invulnerable.
The US president has quite recently learned and claimed that Iran is violating the spirit of the nuclear deal. It is fairly obvious that the whole concept of ‘spirit of the JCPOA’ is new to him only to have been learned from his aides in the recent month; now he is under the delusion that the newly found leverage enables him to level charges against Iran.
If this was not the case, he would not have adopted such parochial approach to this sensitive matter which is profoundly intertwined with and governed by the law of treaties.
How come a party who, in principle, does not hold a shred of respects for a multilaterally negotiated agreement, and expressly calls it a stupid deal and unabashedly reveals his intentions of leaving the whole establishment accuses the other side of violating the spirit of this very same deal?
If the US president detests his predecessor and is keen on obliterating his legacy, he will be better off seeking this adventure at home, and not projecting his hatred to foreign policy.
Foreign policy and international law are predicated upon fundamentally different logic from that of national laws. International law takes an impartial stance on changes of government and in such situation is disinterested in nations’ domestic affairs and takes continuity of commitments as a principle.
All international commitments are, in principle, based on the principle "pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept).
His background in business must give the US president a clear understanding that the nuclear deal is a fait accompli from which you cannot walk away under false pretexts.
The US power and relevance in international system makes the president’s actions all the more important as it could potentially lead to irreparable catastrophes.
Legally speaking unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA is not permissible. As sovereign entities countries could make legally unjustifiable decisions in contravention of international law, however, flouting the law does not connote or condone a state of lawlessness.
From a purely legal perspective, the mechanisms embedded within the JCPOA and the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 make withdrawal impossible.
The JCPOA is not merely a pact or a simple agreement, but an international system writ large. Legally speaking the JCPOA maintains a hierarchy of rules and regulations. The JCPOA contains primary and secondary legal provisions and its implementation is supported by a verification mechanism, dispute settlement, withdrawal and ultimate annulment.
Furthermore, under the UN Charter, the JCPOA has been endorsed by a Security Council Resolution. Such mechanism bears close resemblance to national administrative and legal systems.
The binding force of the JCPOA drives not only from the will of the contracting parties, but also from the Security Council Resolution 2231.
The JCPOA is endorsed as Annex A to the Security Council Resolution 2231 which, according to international law, is an integral part of the UNSC resolution. Therefore, not only the parties to the JCPOA are bound by it, but also, given the UN members’ pledge to accept and adopt the decision of the Security Council under Article 25 of the UN Charter, the Resolution 2231 is binding upon all UN Member States, which in turn, commits them to the JCPOA.
Even if the US invokes its domestic mechanisms as the reason for shirking its commitments enshrined in the JCPOA, she cannot evade its commitments under the Security Council Resolution.
The strategic loss the US would suffer by ignoring a Chapter VII UNSC resolution is beyond the ken of current US Administration. Just take a moment to appreciate the gravity of such an act; all other Security Council Members will soon follow suit in adopting an irresponsible approach and will disregard their obligations and enforcement regulations.
The JCPOA commitments in a nutshell would be for Iran to take confidence-building and transparency measures, implement the Additional Protocol, put a cap on its enrichment level and reiterate that ‘under no circumstance’ will Iran seek nuclear weapons, and in return, the other party pledges to terminate nuclear sanctions and commit to cooperate in civil nuclear projects.
To violate any of these two sets of principles, under internal or administrative pretexts or for any other excuse, will relieve the other party of its duties under the deal.
Thus, any attempt on the part of the US to derail the JCPOA or withdraw from it and forfeit implementing obligations under the deal will, in principle, bear upon the commitments of the other party as regards transparency and confidence-building measures; this is the political ramification of breaching legal commitments.
On the other hand, if we look at the bigger picture, we could discern its integral elements; namely the text of the JCPOA and UNSC resolution, binding statements of the contracting parties upon finalization of the deal; thus, it is easy to figure out that from a legal point of view any withdrawal from the deal would be illegitimate without the consent of the Security Council.
The JCPOA invokes the national laws of each party as a basis for carrying out their commitments on a national level and cannot serve as a substitute for their international commitments, specifically those set out under a UNSC resolution.
Thus, any measure taken by all UN Member States, not just the US, aimed at undermining the JCPOA is a violation of international law and inconsistent with UNSCR 2231.
To exacerbate its already-poor JCPOA implementation record, the US seems bent on undermining the JCPOA or even withdrawing from it. Not only would this be a violation of international law, but also this would provide Iran and other parties to the deal with reasonable grounds to take countermeasures.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was one of the parties to the JCPOA, however, a Security Council endorsement of the agreement took matters beyond the negotiating parties and anointed it as an international agreement by which all members of the international community are bound.
Any unilateral counter-JCPOA measure by the US will be to the detriment of both Iran and the US and deals a devastating blow to the international community as they won’t be able to reap the economic benefits from the otherwise lucrative business with Iran.
Unilateral acts on the part of the US or any other nation, or even in inter-personal relationships for that matter, are allowed to the extent they won’t encroach on others’ rights and benefits; the transgressor must be held accountable.
In the end, US president’s inexorable hostility towards Iran and a negotiated deal, endorsed by the international community, does not jibe well with any legal or political logic.
The heart desire remains that the US Administration paid more attention to the facts on the ground than stubbornly bent on emotional and illogical reactions.
Nations and statesmen, especially those with the political inexperience of a parvenu, are prone to embark on irrational undertakings or commit strategic errors.
If the push comes to shove, however, Iran will not sit idle and will take necessary measures to rise to the challenge.