Indo-Iran relations post-JCPoA: the US and the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation

International relations International trade United States of America India Iran

President Trump has withdrawn the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), an election promise that he met on 8 May 2018, after ascertaining that support for it was not universal. The European Union (EU) stated its intention to continue to observe the JCPoA and Iran imposed a time limit on its considerations. As realpolitik sank in, several European states decided that their interests were best served by maintaining their varied links with the US. India, whose long relationship with Iran is cited below, announced that it would continue its development and trade plans with Iran. Both found support from other countries and from the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO), which held its most recent Summit in June 2018. Following Trump’s hard and soft diplomatic approaches to North Korea, and Iran’s observation of their eventual outcome, Tehran may choose to enter negotiations with Washington.

Key points:

  • The strength of the Indo-Iran relationship is notable.
  • The force of US-imposed sanctions and their likely constraints on Iran and its trading partners have not yet been tested.
  • India’s reaction to any possible sanctions imposed on it for continuing its development assistance and trade with Iran will not deter it from furthering its relations with Tehran.
  • The numerical strength of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) could offer India (a new member) and Iran (with observer status) a new source of background support.
  • Iran is faced with a decision: will it negotiate with the United States if the latter’s talks with North Korea provide an outcome acceptable to both sides?
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