Will the Iran Nuclear Deal Survive?
By Robin Wright
By Robin Wright
Last month, Boeing signed a landmark agreement with Iran to sell or lease a hundred and nine passenger jets. The mega-deal, worth at least twenty billion dollars, would be the largest sale of American goods to the Islamic Republic since the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, shortly after the 1979 Revolution. Iran Air badly needs new planes to modernize its fleet, which dates back to the Shah’s era. Iranians alternately joke and agonize about mechanical problems that plague the country’s aging aircraft, essential for travel in a country two and a half times the size of Texas.
The Boeing sale would mark the next phase in developing a pragmatic and profitable—if still unofficial—relationship with Iran, after the nuclear deal completed a year ago today. The fates of both initiatives, however, still face turbulent rides. The nuclear deal—formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (J.C.P.O.A.)—is fragile, at best. The diplomatic flirtation during two years of tortuous negotiations has also soured, despite nine meetings between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in the past year. The detention of more Iranian-Americans, who were formally indicted this week, hasn’t helped. Presidential elections in the United States and Iran complicate the prospects of both the nuclear deal and the Boeing sale.
In Iran, a new poll released on Wednesday finds growing disillusionment with the nuclear deal, the leaders who produced it, and the United States. President Hassan Rouhani, the charismatic centrist who initiated the diplomacy, is facing a backlash. He ran, in 2013, on the promise that nuclear diplomacy would lift sanctions and improve the economy. Almost three-quarters of Iranians polled now say they have felt no improvements from the deal—and have little or no confidence that Washington will fulfill its commitments, according to the University of Maryland and Iranpoll.com.
“Iran paid a huge price,” Kayhan, the hard-line newspaper, wrote this week to mark the anniversary. “The public is asking: What has the nuclear deal accomplished for people’s livelihood and for the dignity of Islamic Iran?”