P5+1 losing ground in negotiation with Iran

Mitchell Liermann, Reporter

Negotiations with Iran have recently hit a brick wall, and it has become clear now more than ever that the United States is not going to achieve what it wanted.

For about the past two decades, Iran has engaged in efforts to acquire the capability to produce nuclear weapons. It is uncertain whether Iran will pursue weapons development. However, Iran has been able to develop multiple nuclear technologies, such as uranium enrichment and warhead design. Iran currently claims its nuclear development efforts are peaceful in nature.

In response to the growing nuclear capabilities in Iran, various countries have attempted to negotiate with Iran in an effort to limit its programs. The most recent negotiations with Iran, which started in 2006, are with the “P5+1,” referring to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States) and Germany.

Previous efforts to negotiate with Iran have lead to some freezing of its nuclear program in exchange for various sanctions on the country being removed. These efforts so far have been praised, with Iran initially being very cooperative.

Since then, negotiations between P5+1 and Iran have slowly deteriorated. Talks were constantly being extended and left unresolved until, in 2013, the Joint  Plan of Action (JPOA) was released, supposedly defining the framework of the treaty with Iran. Only recently, however, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was released, a confusing retread of the original JPOA. At the moment, it’s mainly a concern of determining which plan is the correct one.

The United States has so far had a fairly poor track record of keeping their story straight. The government believed that the JPOA “[halted] the progress of Iran’s nuclear program”; however, in recent years, Iran has continued to make progress in its nuclear program.

In 2013, President Barack Obama declared that he would only accept a treaty with Iran if they agreed to “end their nuclear program” entirely. In November 2013, Obama stated that Iran was a year or more away from developing weapons. On April 2, during his White House Rose Garden speech praising the new JCPOA, Obama then claimed that Iran was only “two or three months away” from developing weapons.

This statement means that, contrary to claims made by the government, Iran’s development has increased during its time under the JPOA.

Even the most optimistic reading of the JCPOA is unlikely to prevent Iran from obtaining weapons capabilities. Given the president’s initial position versus where the negotiations are now, it’s hard not to conclude that the U.S. position has broken down.