BETWEEN HOPE AND DISMAY | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 04, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 04, 2015

IRAN-WEST NUCLEAR TREATY

BETWEEN HOPE AND DISMAY

While some have appreciated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), signed by Iran and the P5+1 countries, some others, including Israel consider it “historic blunder.” However, the main question propping up in everybody's mind is whether the treaty will prevent the threats emanating from an emerging imperial and ideological state like Iran.

As claimed by President Obama, the treaty has been successful with the support from 99 percent of the world population providing optimism for global peace and security. However, there are pessimists who argue that the treaty will not minimise nuclear threats from Iran in the foreseeable future. Israel is the principal issue of concern, as it has opposed the treaty from the very beginning. Critics believe that permanent and lasting international security requires an understanding between Iran and Israel- two eternal enemies of the Middle East region. Israel has ceaselessly asked for a treaty that would stop Iran from ever possessing nuclear weapons. 

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Critics also think that an Iran-West nuclear détente is an unfeasible reality. That's why both sides had provided misleading information following the interim Structural Framework Agreement signed on April 2 in Switzerland. The US claimed that the interim agreement forced Iran to bow down and that sanctions imposed on Iran will never be lifted, rather suspended for an indefinite period. Iran, on the other hand, claimed that Iranian interests were upheld in the Structural Framework Agreement. Richard N. Haas, President of the US Council of Foreign Relations, listed a number of reasons for the pessimist school of thought in this regard. These include the conflicts between hard-line critics of Iran and the fundamentalist Jewish Lobby, lack of public opinion about the treaty both in the West and Arab world, and above all, the prospective nuclearisation of Iran in future. The pessimists are also sceptical about the success of the treaty and are concerned about the bottom-line of both sides. For example, Iran will insist on lifting sanctions forever. The West will not tolerate any Iranian steps towards its nuclear ambition. 

Despite these arguments, supporters are optimistic about the enormous success of the Iran–West nuclear détente. Global concerns caused by Iran's nuclear programme started to diminish as soon as the nuclear treaty was signed. Western concerns that Iran will turn out to be a nuclear power is now removed as the treaty limits Iran's nuclear programme to peaceful civilian uses. Iranian concerns for its decaying economy are also being abated, as the West agreed to lift sanctions imposed by the UN, US and EU. Those optimistic about the deal are confident that the strategic gains of both sides are addressed in the JCPA. Both sides have expressed satisfaction and optimism about their achievements following the nuclear agreement. Iran agreed to limit the number and uses of developed centrifuges, enrichment of uranium and shipping or storage of nuclear materials. It has also agreed to replace its previous three-month breakout time with one-year breakout time for a period of ten years. This means that Iran will need twelve months in order to manufacture a nuclear bomb. The West can take necessary preventive steps in twelve months. Iran has also agreed to allow the UN observation team to visit its military sites.

From the Iranian perspective, optimists see Iran's gains in a number of ways. The ailing economy of Iran which was caused by western sanctions will now get a chance to improve. The lifting of sanctions will allow Iran's economy to jump-up in near future. Iran is also allowed to gear up its nuclear research activities for developed centrifuges. Iran's long isolation from the West barred Iranian citizens from even using their credit cards. Now their treaty with the West will facilitate them to get rid of international isolation. It's very interesting to note that Israel reiterated its demand for Iran's recognition of Israel's existence and statehood which have long been denied by Iran. Does this mean that Israel will not have any problem with the Iran-West nuclear détente as long as Iran recognises Israel?

All of this leads us to conclude that the construction of a nuclear agreement between Iran and the West emerged as the demand of the time, space and situation. The Western block must understand that it would not be wise to install a new conflict with Iran at a time when the West is suffering from declining global image because of the hegemonic stability theory imposed by the US and the West on other countries to exercise their influence and hegemony. The Iran-US rapprochement is thus widely lauded as the new era of Iran's opening to the West. 

The Iran-US nuclear treaty should bring everlasting results, keeping in view the realities of the political economy behind the Western proxy war in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, and their proxy war in Syria against the Bashar government and their conflicts in the Middle East region against Iran and its allies. Above all, the Iran-US nuclear treaty must lead to a sustainable solution in order to prevent the risk of transforming Middle Eastern regional conflicts on oil and water resources into dangerous global conflicts. 

The writer is a Professor of the Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka  and is currently Dean of the School of Business, Sylhet International University. 
Email: mramin68@yahoo.com

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