Foreign Policy Watch: India-Iran

US- Iran Agreement : A Path to a Nuclear Arrangement


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Proposed agreement between US and Iran, potential outcomes and implications


Central Idea

  • The recent disclosure of interactions between American and Iranian diplomats has shed light on the ongoing negotiations regarding the release of American prisoners in Iran and the possibility of a fresh deal on the nuclear issue. These discussions have taken place through intermediaries, with Oman playing a key role in facilitating communication between the two countries.

What is the proposed agreement?

  • Iran’s Nuclear Program: Under the arrangement, Iran would freeze its nuclear enrichment at 60%. This measure is significant as Iran’s uranium enrichment program had reached 84%, raising concerns about its progress towards a nuclear weapon.
  • US Security in the Region: Iran would agree not to attack US military contractors in Syria and Iraq. This provision aims to ensure the safety of American personnel operating in these areas.
  • Cooperation with the IAEA: Iran would improve cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. This step is crucial for ensuring transparency and verifying Iran’s compliance with its nuclear-related commitments.
  • Ballistic Missiles: Iran would refrain from providing ballistic missiles to Russia. The inclusion of this provision reflects concerns about Iran’s missile capabilities and their potential destabilizing impact on the region.
  • Release of American Prisoners: Iran would release the three US citizens currently in its custody. This aspect addresses the humanitarian issue of detained Americans and has been a point of contention in US-Iran relations.

United States commitments In return

  • Sanctions: The US would pledge to avoid imposing new harsh sanctions on Iran. This is significant as sanctions have been a central tool in exerting pressure on Iran in the past.
  • Gulf Waters: The US would refrain from seizing Iranian oil tankers in the Gulf waters. This provision aims to prevent further escalations and maintain stability in the region.
  • UN Resolutions: The US would not pursue anti-Iran resolutions in the United Nations. This indicates a shift away from a confrontational approach in international forums.
  • Release of Frozen Assets: The US would take steps to defreeze Iran’s bank accounts, which are estimated to be around $80 billion in various banks outside the country. Additionally, the US would immediately allow the release of $7 billion in South Korea and $2.7 billion in Iraq. These actions aim to address Iran’s economic concerns and provide some relief.

US Interests in the Proposed Agreement

  • Nuclear Non-Proliferation: The United States has a long-standing interest in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The proposed agreement aims to address concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program and prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. By freezing Iran’s nuclear enrichment and enhancing cooperation with the IAEA, the agreement seeks to maintain regional stability and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.
  • Regional Stability: The US has a vested interest in promoting stability in the Middle East. The proposed agreement aims to mitigate tensions and reduce the likelihood of a regional conflagration. By addressing Iran’s nuclear program and its activities in the region, the agreement seeks to contribute to a more stable and secure Middle East.
  • Humanitarian Concerns: The release of American prisoners held in Iran is an important humanitarian issue for the United States. The proposed agreement includes a provision for the release of these individuals, which aligns with US interests in protecting the welfare of its citizens abroad.

Potential Outcomes of the Proposed Agreement

  • Temporary Resolution: The agreement could serve as a temporary resolution to address immediate concerns related to Iran’s nuclear program and US-Iran tensions. By freezing Iran’s nuclear enrichment and securing the release of American prisoners, it could create a period of relative stability and reduced hostilities between the two countries.
  • Mitigating Regional Conflicts: The agreement may help mitigate regional conflicts by reducing the risk of a direct confrontation between Iran and the United States. With Iran committing not to attack US military contractors in Syria and Iraq, it could contribute to a de-escalation of tensions in these regions.
  • Improved US-Iran Relations: The proposed agreement could pave the way for improved relations between the United States and Iran in the short term. By engaging in diplomatic negotiations, both countries demonstrate a willingness to find common ground and address key issues. This could potentially lead to further engagement and dialogue on other matters of mutual concern in the future.
  • Economic Impact: If the agreement is implemented, it could have economic implications. Iran’s release of frozen assets and the potential easing of some sanctions could provide a boost to its economy. This, in turn, could improve the living conditions of Iranian citizens and potentially contribute to stability within the country.
  • Impact on Regional Dynamics: The agreement may have broader implications for regional dynamics. It could potentially facilitate improved ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as impact other regional players. Additionally, the agreement could influence the behavior and decisions of other countries in the region, potentially altering geopolitical dynamics.
  • Uncertain Long-Term Viability: The long-term viability of the proposed agreement remains uncertain. Given its informal and unwritten nature, there may be challenges in ensuring adherence and accountability over time. Changes in leadership, shifts in domestic politics, or evolving regional dynamics could impact the agreement’s sustainability beyond the current administration.

India’s significant interest in these developments

  • Energy Security: India is heavily reliant on oil imports, and Iran has historically been an important supplier of crude oil. Any changes in the US-Iran relationship, including sanctions or easing of restrictions, could have an impact on India’s energy security and oil prices.
  • Chabahar Port: India has invested significantly in the development of the Chabahar Port in Iran, which serves as a crucial gateway for India’s connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia. The US sanctions have posed challenges to India’s operations at the port. Therefore, any changes in the US-Iran dynamics and potential easing of sanctions could have implications for India’s access and operations at the port.
  • Regional Stability: India has a stake in maintaining stability in the region, particularly in its immediate neighborhood. The US-Iran agreement, if successful, could potentially contribute to regional stability and reduce tensions. This aligns with India’s broader interests in ensuring peace and security in the Middle East.
  • Balancing Relations: India maintains relationships with both the United States and Iran. As a strategic partner of the US, India has sought to align its interests with the US on several global issues. At the same time, India has maintained longstanding cultural, economic, and historical ties with Iran. India will likely aim to strike a balance between its relationships with both countries while promoting its national interests.
  • Geopolitical Considerations: India’s stance on the US-Iran negotiations could be influenced by broader geopolitical considerations. India seeks to maintain its strategic autonomy and diversify its partnerships. It will carefully assess the implications of the US-Iran agreement on its relationships with other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Israel


  • The implications of US and Iran arrangement extend beyond the nuclear issue, potentially impacting Iran’s regional relationships and opening doors for future engagement between the US and Iran. The success of the agreement remains uncertain, but it marks a notable step towards resolving longstanding tensions between the two nations.

Also read:

Iran- Saudi rivalry: China’s role and India’s Concerns


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