Economics · International Affairs · Law · Public Policy

Iran Nuclear Deal

Amid conflicting views and opinions the ‘historic’ agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5+1 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council members, including Germany, and the EU) took place on 14th July, 2015 in Vienna over Iran’s Nuclear Deal Framework, a deal that took years in the making. Ever since the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979), the West and Iran had had a strained relationship. From issuing sanctions since 2006 against Iran to isolating her altogether, the deal now seems to shed a ray of hope for Iranians as well as the Western countries, with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani remarking that he was glad that the 23 month long negotiations had reached a “new level” and US President Barack Obama acknowledging that a “historic understanding” had been reached.

In a joint statement back in April 2015, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that they had “gathered [here] to find solutions towards reaching a comprehensive resolution that will ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme and the comprehensive lifting of all sanctions we have reached solutions on key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The key points in the agreement are:

On the side of Iran –

  • Reduction in the number of installed centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,104 and only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years.
  • Not enrich uranium above 3.67% purity (suitable for civil use and nuclear power generation only).
  • Reduce stockpile of enriched uranium from current 10,000 to not more than 300 kilograms 3.67% enrich uranium for 15 years.
  • Fordow uranium enrichment facility will operate not more than 1,000 centrifuges for research. 5,000 R-1 centrifuges will be running at Natanz. The remaining 13,000 centrifuges will be used as spare, as needed.
  • Arak facility will be modified so as to produce a minimal amount of plutonium but will remain a heavy-water reactor.
  • Allow inspection of all its nuclear facilities and its supply chains such as uranium mining sites (Military sites are not included).

And in return the P5+1 will –

  • Lift all sanctions within 4 to 12 months of a final accord.
  • Develop a mechanism to restore old sanctions if Iran fails to comply as per IAEA reports and inspection.
  • The E.U. will remove energy and banking sanctions.
  • The U.S. will remove sanctions against domestic and foreign companies who do business with Iran.
  • All U.N. resolutions sanctioning Iran will be annulled.
  • All U.N. related sanctions will be dismantled.

(The full text can be found here: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/240752.pdf )

The UN Security Council passed the Resolution 2231 (2015) “setting out a rigorous monitoring mechanism and timetable for implementation, while paving the way for the lifting of United Nations sanctions against that country”. The signatories were hopeful that the agreement will be the beginning a long term collaboration, with Valery Churkin of the Russian Federation remarking that “the resolution not only turned a page, but a whole chapter” and Gholamali Khoshroo of Iran stating that his country was “willing to comply fully with its commitments because it was already committed to its Supreme Leader’s declaration against all weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons”.

The people of Iran took to the streets to celebrate this new turn of events. The youth hope that with the lifting of the bans and sanctions there will soon be an influx of tourists, willing to explore the vast and beautiful ancient country; there will be economic growth as trade will grow, the imported stuffs will be available for cheaper and Iran will be able to import car or airplane parts while exporting its products to Europe and other countries, and in particular inflation will be stabilised as the Iranian rial will rise.

However, even though most of the world leaders, signatories and the populations of Iran, Europe, and USA show support for the framework deal, there are some who oppose it. According to a new poll by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling, “Voters within every gender, race, and age group are in support of it, reflecting the broad-based mandate for the deal” indicating that most of the American public supports the program by a 54-38 margin. Even the Jewish Americans according to a Los Angeles Jewish Journal poll reported in the ‘The Jerusalem Post’ are for the deal by a 49-31 margin, there are politicians and others who have been vocal about their disapprovals4. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, opines that the deal is a “bad mistake of historic proportions,” and that it would enable Iran to “continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region5. Some are of the opinion that the deal does not safeguard that Iran will honour its commitments and that there is no way to prevent her or guarantee that Iran will withhold from ever building nuclear weapons. David S. Sullivan, a former CIA arms verification specialist and also a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee arms expert, has said that “confirming Iran’s compliance with new nuclear obligations will be difficult”.

Yet, President Obama has addressed this fear by stating that the deal with Iran is not one based on ‘trust’ but on ‘unprecedented verification’ and that “if Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it7. Iranian authorities have always maintained that their nuclear programme was a peaceful one and they still stand by their argument. Russia, an Iranian ally, welcomed the deal as recognition of “Iran’s unconditional right to a peaceful nuclear programme”8. President Rouhani stressed that “no one can say Iran surrendered…The deal is a legal, technical and political victory for Iran. It’s an achievement that Iran won’t be called a world threat anymore.”

To sum up, the deal really is a breakthrough and shows that the Iranian government is ready for a change, perhaps because it is tired of stagnation or perhaps, it has realised that such a compromise will lead to more benefits. And the West wants to ensure that there will be stability and peace, and as always, that things will work in its own national interest. One thing is certain, however, it is a deal that is based on a certain amount of trust, even if a fragile one. One does hope that the signatories will honour their commitments, even though some, especially Iranians feel that the West is filled with unnecessary paranoia and mistrust, and has tried to limit their share of the agreement parameters with the Islamic Republic to the minimal. Now that the deal has been agreed upon, it is time for individual governments to approve it and put to action. And now, an important aspect that should get the limelight is the monitory mechanism that should be designed and put into place to ensure a smooth and steady execution of the JCPOA.

By: Tatevik Tadevosyan

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