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The United States cuts ties with JCPOA: Sentiment analysis of escalating US-Iran tensions

The United States cuts ties with JCPOA: Sentiment analysis of escalating US-Iran tensions

Congratulations to Fabiola Soto, an NJCU undergraduate majoring in Security Studies, for being selected as a project intern in summer 2020. Good luck with your next steps! Please see below for some of her research and analysis.

In 2015, Iran agreed to a long term deal on its nuclear program with world powers – the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France and Germany.

This was a result of the built up tensions over Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The deal limited Iranian nuclear activities and involved international inspections. Lasting for only a few years, in 2018 President Donald Trump declared U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. It was a controversial foreign policy decision and tensions have risen since the decision.

The end of JCPOA for the U.S.
On May 8, 2018, President Donald Trump announced U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Protecting the United States from this “bad deal,” President Trump followed by stating, “The Iran Nuclear Deal was one of the worst and most-one sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” (White House Fact Sheets).

Using the FOCUSdata Project article database from Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency, we identified the sentiment/polarity monthly from December 2011 to February 2020. Specifically, the search of articles after inputting the term “JCPOA” resulted in the graph above. Based on the image, data shows clear indications of ongoing, generally positive discussions of the nuclear deal, with a peak in the number of articles in May 2018, the month the U.S. declared its intent to withdrawal from the treaty.

The image above shows emotions from Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs articles and announcements. Throughout the years recorded, Dec. 2017 to Dec. 2019, trust is the one emotion that stands out and can be concluded as most important to Iran and how they may work around developing relationships with other countries.

The image above is from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well, but after searching for mentions of “United States” in articles spanning late 2017 to late 2019. Sentiment varies from positive, negative and neutral, which underlines the ongoing controversies and unstable relationship between Iran and United States.

Trump Polarity/Sentiment

Iran’s perspective of Trump did not change much after he called off U.S. involvement in the nuclear deal. Articles in both IRNA and MOFA demonstrate that Iran did not see Trump as trustworthy and the President of Iran wanted the U.S. to uphold its obligations. The image above demonstrates the sentiment of the articles over time, and specifically the negative peaks of May 2018 (the withdrawal from JCPOA) and September 2018 (likely in response to sanctions). This was then followed by a second round of sanctions in November 2018.

IRNA’s Publications on Trump

Over 100,000 articles are in our IRNA database, covering the years 2012 to 2020. The image below shows the results after inserting “Trump” in the search bar. Sentiment throughout the graph stays on even levels of positivity, with the peak in articles containing ‘Trump’ occurring in May 2018, after cutting ties under the JCPOA. Another peak in the number of articles also includes low polarity results of 0.0265, in April 2019, when Trump announced he was designating a powerful arm of the Iranian military a “terrorist group.” The last peak from the image, with a low sentiment of 0.067, was the result of the U.S. airstrike that killed Qassim Suleimani, the Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, in January 2020. This was a hot topic and a source of indignation for Iran.