Although it was widely expected, US President Donald Trump sent shock waves across the world, especially among his European allies, when he pulled the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump vowed not only to reinstate the “highest level of economic sanctions” on Iran but also threatened with huge political and economic repercussions countries and companies that continue to invest or do business with it .
The decision shocked Iran too, especially the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which hoped that the multi-billion dollars deals it had made with US and European companies would be taken into account when “business-minded” Trump makes up his mind on the nuclear deal.
Although the impact of the US decision was devastating for the Rouhani administration and although it had threatened to retaliate, it has so far declined to withdraw from the 2015 agreement.
But given that the JCPOA without the US no longer satisfies Iran’s main objectives for pursuing the deal, it might not stay in it for much longer.
Why did Iran need a deal in the first place?
The crippling sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in 2012, targeting its oil sector and banking system, played a key role in forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear programme. Iran was desperate to lift the sanctions, but that was not its only motive to pursue a nuclear deal.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran’s top priority has been to ensure regime survival, and