In 2015 the then Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told the House of Commons that the agreement the UK and other world powers had reached with Iran meant that “the world can be reassured that all Iranian routes to a nuclear bomb have been closed off”.
This week marks the two-year anniversary of the agreement. While the government regards Iran in compliance with the terms of the agreement, the reality is that the agreement isn’t securing the outcomes it was intended to achieve.
At the heart of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) lay a straightforward bargain. In exchange for submitting to a range of restrictions on its nuclear programme, Iran would be afforded extensive sanctions relief. Iran has dutifully complied with those restrictions, and begun to take advantage of new economic opportunities. Accordingly, most officials continue to regard the agreement as a success.