Finally, a breakthrough on Iran

Published: December 1, 2013
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The writer has a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at http://coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

The writer has a master’s degree in conflict resolution from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and blogs at http://coffeeshopdiplomat.wordpress.com

International headlines have been dominated recently with news of the agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the US, Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany). Iran committed to curbing its nuclear activities to a certain extent and in turn, will receive some relief from sanctions. This is not a treaty in itself but an initial step towards negotiating one in six months.

In the meantime, Iran has to fulfil the following requirements: stop enriching uranium over five per cent, freeze its stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 3.5 per cent and neutralise its stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to near 20 per cent. All construction and updating of centrifuges has to stop and Iran has agreed to halt development of its nuclear reactor at Arak for six months. This reactor is capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. To verify compliance, the deal allows wide-scale detailed inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and even daily examinations of the enrichment facilities.

In response, the P5+1 countries will free up some of Iran’s frozen foreign assets worth about $6 billion. However, the iron-handed sanctions crushing Iran’s economy will remain in place and were not addressed by this agreement. These issues will probably be discussed during the upcoming comprehensive treaty negotiations. Iran could face dismantling of its nuclear programme in order for a complete removal of sanctions by the Western countries.

This start to a peaceful resolution isn’t sitting well with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and US Republicans. They insist on a complete denuclearisation of Iran and the imposition of a ban preventing Iran from enriching uranium before any negotiations take place. These diehards refuse to acknowledge that the Non- Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is a signatory, allows the right to ‘peaceful nuclear energy’, which requires some level of uranium enrichment.

Despite President Obama’s reassurances, the Israelis feel threatened by the deal and the possibility of a total US withdrawal from the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Arab world has been suspicious about the agreement with the exception of Iran’s allies, Syria and Iraq, which have both praised it. Saudi Arabia feels betrayed by its ally, the US, since the Iranian talks had been kept secret from it. Likewise, Iran’s neighbours are worried that the US-Iran deal will cause them harm and have sought assurances that the outcome will indeed achieve regional security.

This agreement is just the latest sign of a historic and significant shift in how the Western powers are seeking peaceful resolutions in the Middle East. Following an era of sanctions, threats and misguided military campaigns, diplomacy is finally being considered as the best option for moving forward. Even though Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin were on center stage, it was intense pressure from the British and US citizens to avoid unnecessary conflicts, which prevented their politicians from approving military action in Syria in September this year. Now, the US and Iran have come together for their first talks since 1979. The public has become weary of war after the fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan and it appears the politicians are finally paying heed.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Parvez
    Dec 1, 2013 - 11:03PM

    Quite agree with your view. It is a pleasant departure from the ‘ might is always right ‘ approach that the West ( read America ) adopts and I do feel that the dividends from such an approach will be rewarding.

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  • Sukh Madiq
    Dec 2, 2013 - 1:00AM

    Has Israel ever been happy? Seems like the best we can wish for is for them to remain quiet as they murder Iranian scientists and unilaterally bomb Syria. I’m happy to see the US and Europe breaking free from Israeli influence.

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 2, 2013 - 1:20AM

    Nathan yahoo is not the President but the prime minister of Israel!

    Rex Minor

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  • F
    Dec 2, 2013 - 5:15AM

    The schism between the Sunni and Shia worlds just widened. The Arabs remain suspicious and will not play second fiddle to a nuclear Iran – no matter the latest deal and the spin. Besides the Arabs, Pakistani strategists must be taking a glum view of another nuclear power on their border. The security interests of the Saudis and Pakistanis seem aligned. The Jewish state as an ally is out of the question. It is too close to the US and hated in the entire Muslim world.

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 2, 2013 - 7:14AM

    Is there any reason why miss khan ignores the fact that it is the Iranian new Government which has proposed a number of steps that Iran is willing to take for confidence building if certain sanctions are lifted for a six month period after which Iran will submit a comprehensive proposal to assure the 5 plus 1 about the civilian nature of Irans nuclear program,

    The American administration is reported to be engaged in secret meetings with the Iranians for one year period and blinked when the offer was made despite its strategic ally Israel objection.

    Rex Minor

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  • Abbas baloch
    Dec 2, 2013 - 10:29AM

    It is welcome development that Iran has reached on agreement with world powers, when it was declared by their supreme leader that nuclear weapons are ‘haram’, it was needed that when you are not up to nuclear weapons than why you suffer from sanctions.
    it is also important for Muslim world that they need to develop themselves to reduce the reliance on world powers, Iran has developed herself and got a reasonable bargain on negotiations table. i wish interim agreement reach its expectation and this region could see peace.

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  • Paki
    Dec 2, 2013 - 3:31PM

    The for sure is another pleasing development after demolishing the Syrian Chemical Weapons. These both resolutions in the vulnerable middle East clearly show us that diplomacy and mutual respect is the only way forward in this era of globalization. This also makes one ponder upon the actions of US in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya. Do we still think that wars and killing will make us or say the Americans safe??

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  • Rex Minor
    Dec 2, 2013 - 4:50PM

    @Abbas baloch:

    let us be very clear; nedither Iran nor Israel has denied the possession of the loly pops in their arsenal. We are talking about the Iranian nuclear program for peaceful purpose which came under the scrutiny of the 5 plus1 and sanctions were imposed.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • unbelievable
    Dec 2, 2013 - 7:32PM

    Author is showing her anti Western bias. It was Iran that has suddenly changed it’s policy not the West which has offered numerous similar deals in the past which Iran had spit on. Further – negotiating a deal doesn’t mean the USA is getting ready to depart the Middle East – just means that the USA doesn’t need the approval of either Saudi Arabia or Israel.

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  • Abbas
    Dec 3, 2013 - 1:16AM

    For Iran it was never attaining nuclear bomb capability. It was always a bargaining chip that required suffering sanctions while there sphere of influence was strengthened to a point when they would sit down and negotiate the acceptance of their role as a regional power in the Middle East.
    The Persians have always played a significant role from time immemorial in the area. And for the United States recognizing Iran’s sphere of influence is not only accepting the inevitable but also a balancing act between the three powers that have emerged from the events of the last century i.e Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
    The United States interests are not always necessarily in line with Israel or Saudi Arabia and the balancing act enables the US to pivot to Asia where the economic promise of this century lies.

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