First detente on the Iranian nuclear issue

► What did the director of the IAEA get?

Saturday February 20, Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was in Tehran where he obtained a ” temporary solution “ three months to maintain surveillance of nuclear sites by its inspectors, even if inspections will be limited as of Tuesday, February 23.

→ ANALYSIS. Iran: return of the International Atomic Energy Agency in a context of relaxation

Previously, theIran threatened to interrupt them from that date. “Access will be reduced, let’s face it, but we will be able to maintain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification”, said Rafael Grossi.

Under the terms of the“Technical bilateral agreement” that he has signed, the number of on-site inspectors remains unchanged and the IAEA will be able to carry out unannounced inspections. But Tehran maintains a law recently passed by its parliament, which plans to restrict some inspections, including at suspicious military sites, if US sanctions are not lifted.

“This certainly does not mean a withdrawal from the agreement” nuclear power in 2015, however, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said. Tehran therefore continues to feel bound by this agreement, which aimed to confine the Iranian nuclear program to civilian use.

Since the coming to power of Joe Biden at the White House a month ago, the prospect of resuming negotiations on this subject is emerging. The challenge ? The return of the United States to the 2015 agreement, rejected by Donald Trump in May 2018.

“On the one hand, Iran is engaged in a standoff and a game of maximum pressure exerted on Washington, with the aim of lifting the sanctions reintroduced by the Trump administration. On the other hand, the United States wants to force Tehran to comply with its commitments, before lifting sanctions. », Explains Astrid Viaud, doctor of political science at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL).

► Will the United States return to the 2015 agreement?

“The interim agreement reached by Rafael Grossi is intended to defuse tension, although it can be suspended at any time », Considers Astrid Viaud. For Thierry Coville, researcher at Iris (Institute of International and Strategic Relations), “ Iranian strategy to put pressure is a good thing. It is a way, according to him, to send the message to those concerned that Tehran still wants to stay in the agreement.

Saturday’s agreement leaves open the possibility of negotiation, believes Clément Therme, post-doctoral researcher at Ceri-Sciences-Po. “However, he said, it is difficult to project yourself in time beyond a few months. The time of the economy, of business, is not that of diplomacy and nuclear verification. A full return to the 2015 agreement will be difficult because each has added requirements. »

In fact, Washington demands that Iran revert to strict enforcement of the 2015 agreement, before any oil sanctions are lifted. Then intends to negotiate, then, an extension of the duration of the prohibitions imposed on Iran, which begin to loosen in 2025, without forgetting an extension of the agreement to ballistic missiles and regional security.

► Would an agreement change the situation in the presidential election in June?

An agreement could, of course, create a climate favorable to massive participation of the population in the elections, ” but at the same time, tempers Clément Therme, there is a competition between the factions ”. Whether moderates or conservatives, everyone in Tehran is hoping to benefit from a breakthrough.

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