The Future of the Iranian Nuclear Deal and Its Ramifications on the Region


Thu, 08-09-2022 05:55 PM, Aden

Dr. Eman Zahran (South24)

It seems that there are a number of indicators towards an imminent achievement of the Iranian nuclear deal requirements and re-pushing the conciliatory forms of Iran’s return to the international incubator. This came after promoting the final drafting of the deal as well as exploring opinions and making assessments by both Washington and Tehran. Accordingly, the Western group and Iran along with the US still await moving forwards towards the coordinating steps which aim to end this file. 

It is worth mentioning that Iran sought, through the latest developments, to guarantee continuous US participation in the deal without withdrawing from it like what happened during the Trump era. The second thing is to unblock its bank accounts and economic deals with all countries, especially regarding oil. This pushes us to ask about the future of the final drafting of the Iranian nuclear deal in addition to the scale of regional concerns and its various impacts on this troubled region on both political and the security arenas.

Tehran’s motives

There are a number of motives driven by various internal interactions, locally, regionally and internationally towards speeding up the Vienna negotiations and reaching consensus about the final drafting of the Iranian nuclear deal. The most prominent among these motives may include the following elements:

- The internal bartering: This point is related to enhancing the position of the Iranian Conservatives after the escalation of internal waves of turmoil and demonstrations. Additionally, the Reformists blame the current Iranian government for the failure of many political and security files. Moreover, many dissenting movements have emerged in various Iranian cities during past months due to the water shortages, especially in the southern cities, the ongoing power outages, the price hike and other internal crises. [1]

- Restoring trust: One of the most Iranian motives is related to absorbing the anger of the Iranian street, restoring the people’s trust in the government and enhancing the chances of “Ibrahim Raisi” to win a second Presidential term. Additionally, it seeks for the Conservatives' continuous presence on top of power and to end the entire Reformists' aspirations for taking over again. 

- Going beyond the region: This can be achieved by solving some files related to Iran's foreign policies, especially opening cooperation prospects with Arab and Western countries and attracting more investments. Iran may fail in some of them if it continues to deal with them from a security perspective rather than a diplomatic one. This definitely means the Saudi-Iranian negotiations related basically to the Yemeni file. 

- Republican concern: Tehran has concerns towards the results of the upcoming Congress Midterm elections in November. This is in light of the growing indicators about the Republicans' possible winning of the majority of seats. This will strengthen the Republicans' odds to win the next Presidential Election in November 2024 which is an unfavorable scenario for Tehran due to the more strict Republican approach towards the Iranian agenda. 

- Ukrainian dilemma: This point is related to the various impacts of the Russian escalation in Ukraine and its consequences on the Vienna path and the future of the Iranian nuclear deal. For example, Moscow seeks to adopt the policy of “networking of files” by exploiting its role in the nuclear deal for fostering its position in managing confrontations with the Western countries about Ukraine. This justifies its keenness to demand guarantees that its economic relationships with Iran won’t be affected by the Western sanctions imposed against it because of the use of the military option in Ukraine. [2] This was refused by the US as its Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “Such demands are irrelevant and that the sanctions that are being put in place on Russia-due to its invasion of Ukraine- have nothing to do with the Iran nuclear deal”. [3]

Existing fears

Regarding the scale of the existing international moves towards reaching the final drafting of the Iranian nuclear deal including all articles of agreements between Tehran and Washington as well as the international and the European group, there are fears that encircle the future scene of the consequences of such moves, foremost of which are represented in the following points:

The return to the international incubator: One of the most important concerns is the consequences of Iran’s resumption of its political and economic relationships with all the international system states. This could restore the trust in its radical religious political regime after the decline of the economic pressures. 

- Bargaining with the energy cards: The second concern is related to Iran’s abundance of oil which qualifies it to be a major factor in running the energy file internationally. This is in parallel with Moscow’s “oil militarization” approach in light of the existing escalation of the Ukrainian crisis. Therefore, the final drafting of the nuclear deal before the actual ratification puts Iran as a safe alternative to the Russian oil and gas to Europe with reasonable prices. The energy file is one reason behind Europe’s endeavors for reviving the nuclear deal with Tehran. For example, Iran’s oil production is about 4 million barrels per day. In case of lifting the sanctions and the return of the foreign companies’ investments, this number will increase according to many estimates. [4] Moreover, Iran’s gas production is one billion m3 per day. It has gas deposits of about 34 trillion m3 which put it in the second place globally after Russia. [5] 

- Legitimizing the current regime: In light of the 2015 experience which added more legitimacy to the Iranian regime after breaking the international isolation on the political, economic and investment fields through approving the nuclear deal, the concerns are renewed towards restoring trust in the Conservatives and the Supreme Leader’s regime as well as the latter’s steps based upon the religious project in the region which is represented in the “Shia Crescent” strategy. This pushes traditional and emerging regional forces to have concerns towards this point. This is in light of rejecting political Islam and radical forces in addition to concerns regarding the expansion of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the increase of its moves which support extremism and terrorism forces as well as its direct impact that leads to political and security turmoil in the region.

Variable Impacts

There are a number of disparate impacts regarding the international consensus about a final form of the Iranian nuclear deal. The most prominent of which is that Iran’s return to the international incubator will lead to more penetration in all the troubled files in the region as illustrated below:

The Yemeni file: This is the most prominent file in light of the scale of the direct cooperation between Tehran and the Houthis. The cooperation is likely to increase in case of the endorsement of the deal and removing the imposed economic sanctions. This could push for more funds and weapons to the Houthis. This will in turn have a negative impact in light of the group’s various threats. Internally, such threats are related to the Houthi's geopolitical expansion in the center and south as well as the militarization of the political negotiations and the frameworks of the peaceful settlement based upon the principle of “gains on the ground”. Externally, the Houthis could target the Gulf states, especially KSA and UAE using drones. 

The Syrian file: The endorsement of the deal may give more escalating roles to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in this file by transferring arms to Syria, the attempt to balance the Russian role in Syria and opening cooperation horizons between Damascus and Ankara. This contradicts the agenda of Washington’s allies and pushes the US towards undermining Tehran’s arms in Syria and besieging them geopolitically. For example, on August 23rd 2022, the Spokesman for the US Army Central Command, "Centcom," Colonel Joe Buccino announced that the army launched military strikes in Deir Ezzor province that targeted infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He added that these precise strikes aim to protect the US forces from repeating attacks like what was implemented by an Iran-backed group on August 15th against US elements when drones targeted a site affiliated with the US-led anti-ISIS forces without any casualties. [6]

- The Palestinian file: This point is build on the scale of mutual cooperation between Iran and its extended arms including Hamas and the Palestinian jihadist groups. This risks more cooperation prospects in light of the spread of turmoil in the Palestinian territories. This is in conjunction with the institutional malfunction and the troubled elections in both the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. On the other hand, Washington is under a test relating to its obligations towards its allies, especially Israel. There is also a test regarding so-called “The Jerusalem U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Joint Declaration '' in case of the final announcement of the US agreement on the final drafting of the nuclear deal. 

- The Iraqi file: It is not much different from all the various roles played by Iran in Yemen, Syria and Palestine. Tehran seeks to reposition itself in the region through the expansion of its arms within all the ruling regimes in the region. The same thing applies to the Iraqi case as it supports the Sadrists. The deal will contribute to lifting the sanctions. This will cause an influx of funds that will be directed to promoting Iranian expansion in the region, foremost of which is Iraq.

- The Lebanese file: This point is related to the political and the security position of Hezbollah in Lebanon. If the deal is endorsed, this will give Tehran more freedom of movement on several regional fronts including Lebanon. For example, Iran will likely indirectly intervene in the Lebanese-Israeli negotiations about the gas fields which became a regional matter managed according to the Iranian vision. While the European bloc seeks to reduce its Russian gas imports by creating new markets in the Middle East, Iran is raising the stakes by stressing that the security of potential Israeli gas supplies to Europe may be at risk if Iranian interests in the nuclear negotiations are not taken seriously. [7] What contributed to this matter is the Western bloc's urgent allowance for pumping the Iranian oil in the markets to fill the gap after banning the Russian supplies.

- The Gulf file: Despite the Gulf agreement about the Iranian threats including intervening in internal and regional affairs, backing some terrorist groups, owning nuclear weapons and enhancing the Iranian missile capabilities, direct and indirect contexts of the nuclear negotiations - whether in Vienna or Doha - led to adopting the "cautious openness" policy by both parties. This pushed the two parties towards activating a regional “Iranian-Arab” dialogue as an alternative to regional escalation policies. This is in conjunction with growing signs about the imminent agreement on the final drafting of the nuclear deal and its subsequent enhancements of Tehran’s influence as a growing power in the region. 

Dr. Eman Zahran 

Egyptian researcher, specializing in international relations and regional security

[1] New cities join protests in Iran despite casualties, agencies and Independent Arabia, 5/15/2022,

[2] Dr. Mohammed Abbas Nagy, A Year on the Vienna Nuclear Negotiations: An Inventory, Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, 4/6/2022,

[3] Iran is amazed by Russia’s attempt to obstruct the nuclear agreement talks, Al-Mashareq website, 9/3/2022,

[4] With Iran's imminent return to the market, OPEC+ is considering oil production cuts,, 23/8/2022,

[5] Mohammed Omar, Isolating Tehran: Why Does Israel Oppose Reviving the Iranian Nuclear Deal?, The Arab Wall, 08/24/2022,

[6] Dr. Muhammad Abbas Naji, The Politics of Deterrence: Why did Washington launch an attack in Deir ez-Zor?, The Arab Wall, 08/24/2022,

[7] Iran bets on global energy crisis to strengthen hand in nuclear talks,, Jul. 6, 2022,

IranHouthisTerrorist groupsTehranGCCregional statesNuclear dealUSUkraineBlinken