In the week when the US normalised relations with two of its historic foes – Cuba and Iran, the global media gave wall-to-wall coverage to the deal between the US and Iran, describing it as a historic deal that potentially changes the global political landscape. The accord was announced on Tuesday 14 July by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in a joint statement in the Austrian capital. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the deal a “win-win” solution to end “an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons for dealing with serious problems that affect our international community. I believe this is a historic moment.” US President Barak Obama, in a White House briefing described the deal as: “Today after two years of negotiation the United States together with the international community has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
The details of the deal show Iran capitulated to every US demand and in effect abandoned its nuclear programme. Under the terms of the deal, Tehran agreed to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to a fraction of what would be needed to make a bomb and halt the use of advanced centrifuges for 10 years. Iran also promised not to build a new heavy water reactor for 15 years and will modify the core of its heavy-water plutonium reactor at Arak, while its spent fuel — a key component of a potential bomb — will be shipped outside of the country. On top of this Iran would allow UN inspectors round-the-clock access to nuclear sites.
The US President confirmed the series of sanctions would be gradually lifted — providing Tehran with access to between $100 billion and $150 billion in frozen funds — only after Iran demonstrates it is abiding by its commitments under the agreement and would be reimposed if Iran was caught cheating. He also reiterated that Washington reserved the right to use force to prevent Iran from obtaining a bomb. The US Congress now has 60 days in which to consider the deal, though Obama said he would veto any attempt to block it.
After over a decade of negotiations and after developing a nuclear programme, Iran submitted itself to US terms, not even defending any aspect of its nuclear programme. Despite this agreement taking so long which included lots of extensions, the deal is really the culmination of more than a decade of careful diplomacy, with much of it behind the scenes. This nuclear deal was just one part of US-Iran normalization of relations.
Throughout both the 20th and 21st century Iran and US have maintained ties despite periods of animosity. The Shah was America’s man in the Middle East and whilst Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini considered the US the devil, Iran always sold oil to the US and never fully cut ties. After the Grand Ayatollah’s death and the emergence of Ali Khamenei, on all the key issues be it Saddam Hussain, the Iraq invasion and the Afghan invasion both the US and Iran worked closely together. But it was the invasion of Iraq which began in 2003 which bled the US dry that the US desperately needed Iran.
When the Arab Spring reached Syria, the US was seriously worried about developments in the Middle East. It was here the US needed Iran to play a central role in extricating the US and saving it from being defeated. Iran responded by making all its proxies join in the US constructed political system in Iraq. This then allowed US forces to concentrate on the insurgency in central Iraq. Sayyid Ali as-Hussayni al-Sistani brought Sadr, Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Da’wah factions together to form the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) that gained a large number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 elections. The group similarly won substantial seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections. Without Iran, the US would never have resolved the quagmire of Iraq. The US and Iran are so close in Iraq that when ISIS overran the Iraqi government in the Anbar province Iranian forces along with Shi’ah militia coordinated air attacks with Iranian ground attacks. But it is in Syria where US-Iranian interests directly converge, both see the al-Assad regime as the future of the country despite the public outcry for his removal. The US has had no problem with Iran propping up Bashar al-Assad as both are in agreement on this. In fact the US and Iran have been in agreement on much of the Middle East for a very long time despite their public rhetoric to the contrary.
Since 1979 Iran gained much support from the global Ummah for its stance against the US and the Jewish entity. Its support for Hezbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine gained it much notoriety when the groups took on the Jewish entity in many wars and made her bleed. But Iran has abandoned the Ummah for its national interests and now sees working with the US as the best way for it to maintain its influence in the region. This has been the dream of many clerics in Iran for decades, despite the constant rhetoric from Tehran. As a regional power, with a guerrilla force in the shape of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Iran is a power that both Saudi Arabia and Israel fear. Iran has every capability to bleed the US dry in the Middle East, but rather then turning the screws against the occupying forces in the region, Iran’s leaders decided to look the other way for strategic national interests. The Jewish entity’s criticism of the deal centers around it being America’s instrument in the Middle East, but now the US has her Persian ally as her main instrument in the Middle East.
Here is a look at what is behind this historic deal:
1. Following the agreement the US president immediately delivered a speech in front of the White House allotted to this agreement, he said, “We have reached a historic understanding with Iran over its nuclear program, it would, if carried out prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” He said, “We have reached a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program” and added that “Tehran has fulfilled their duties and opened the way for inspection.” He described the deal “as good and that it meets our core objectives” and said, “Iran accepted an unprecedented type of inspection system and the door to Iran’s enrichment of uranium will be closed, and there will be reduction of the stock of enriched uranium and centrifuge by two thirds.” He also said, “We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon ever, and in return we will gradually reduce the sanctions that we had imposed and that imposed by the Security Council,” and noted that “the negotiations will continue until June to agree on the exact details.” Also stressed that “the nuclear inspectors will have unprecedented influence on Iran’s nuclear facilities.” He said, “For the Iranian people, we are ready to work for the common interests” (American Radio Sawa 02/04/2015)… These statements of the US president shows how keen is the US administration to reach this agreement, and this agreement was in the interest of America, it achieved its objective, and there is no reason for the others to object. He mentioned the position of those who opposed the agreement of the Republicans in Congress and the prime minister of the Jewish entity, Netanyahu. Obama said that he wants to work with Iran under the common interest, i.e. to use Iran to achieve the American projects in the region, he does not want Iran to remain busy with the threats of the Jewish entity, and incitements of the European trio: Britain, France, and Germany, and raising new problems for Iran, allowing it to remain living under the threat of sanctions.
2. Iran has agreed to reduce its stockpile of low-enrichment uranium (LEU) from 10 thousand kilograms to 300 kilograms at a rate of 3.67% for 15 years, and pledged not to build any new nuclear facilities for the enrichment of uranium for 15 years. It has agreed to reduce the centrifuges by two-thirds bringing it down from the current 19,000 to 6104 under the agreement, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium over the next 10 years. Natanz Facility will be the only facility used for the enrichment of uranium in Iran with decreased amounts. Iran will not enrich uranium at the Fordow Facility for 15 years, instead it will be utilized for nuclear and physics research. Iran is committed to a plan to enrichment and research which it will provide to the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that it will prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb for 10 years. The agreement grants the right to the international observers to monitor the uranium mines and sites of yellow cake manufacturing for 25 years, they also have the right to continuous monitoring of the centrifuges and the stores for 20 years with the freezing of the centrifuges manufacturing.” (Middle East 03/04/2015). Iranian President Hassan Rohani said, “Iran will fulfill all the obligations they have undertaken, provided that the other party fulfills its commitments.” (World Iranian page 3/4/2015). Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “The lifting of sanctions will be a fundamental step forward. We have stopped following an undesirable path by everyone. Not desirable for the process of nuclear non-proliferation or any other party.” This goes to show that Iran had agreed to halt its activities of increasing uranium enrichment and accepted to bring it down to a minimum, so it cannot produce a nuclear weapon. It also reduced the number of centrifuges to one-third, and it will remain under international control for 25 years. This will be binding throughout this period as stated by its president. What matters to Iran is the lifting of its sanctions, Javad Zarif said, “The sanctions imposed on Iran will end when the procedures that have been agreed upon with the major powers are implemented.”
3. As for the rest of the P5+1 countries it was clear that their role is marginal, the actual negotiations were often taking place between America and Iran only, publicly and secret, and the role of the remaining parties is closer to spectators than that of a role player. Indications show that America has guaranteed its agreement with Iran, and what was left was its production process in stages the rest of the P5+1 states were on the lookout, if they see something they do not like they are left to sulk, leave to calm down and then return to sign or delegate someone to do so on their behalf! This was evident in the positions of ministers of these countries; Lavrov said during a visit to Tajikistan that “the situation is unusual, unprecedented…” and noted that “the significance of the current stage lies in the formulation of a political framework agreement and it has become clear in all its components.” The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Ukashević said, “Russia does not see an urgent need for the return of its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Lausanne, but what the participants are doing now in the negotiations is to check the initial agreements.”
What appears from the Russians’ statements that the matter was previously planned and ready, what only remains is to sign it, this is why they did not see the need for the Foreign Minister to go back to sign. He was the one who stated that the matter was unusual, referring to US Secretary of State, who met with the Iranians the most, headed by their Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif, for weeks alone, and he intensified the meetings non-stop in the last week of 26/3/2015 till the time for signing at the end of last month. He called the foreign ministers from the rest of the group’s member states to participate in the signing! But before signing day, they left the meeting when they found everything was arranged, and that the United States insists on signing the agreement as is. The French foreign minister left angrily through the back door, and the German foreign minister was about to travel to the Baltic Republics, and the Russians, as mentioned above, did not return, and left his deputy there. The Chinese minister was not concerned with the issue, and the coolness of the British minister overwhelmed, so he did not show his outrage, nor satisfaction, but was waiting for what will happen in the usual English brilliance. But everyone eventually returned to the signing ceremony session, but to save face they began debating what was prepared by America, and they extended the debate to two days, and then signed the agreement without being able to change anything of significance in it.
Russia’s Foreign Minister has said that the agreement between America and Iran was agreed prior to today, signing it now is only a political move, therefore, he did not see the need for his attendance in Lausanne, his deputy signed instead. Thus, the main role in the agreement was between America and Iran.
4. The Republicans who control Congress showed their dissatisfaction with the agreement for partisan opposition reasons and electoral purposes to come. The deal was signed by the Obama administration, despite their opposition so that this administration achieves successes in foreign policy and to be able to use Iran in the implementation of projects and plans in the region. Chairman of the US House of Representatives John Boehner said, “The final agreement standards represent a disturbing difference in comparison with the basic goals set by the White House,” and he said, “The Congress must have the right to fully consider the details of any agreement before sanctions are lifted. The Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress is scheduled to vote on the 14th of this month on a proposal that imposes on Obama’s administration to present the agreement to the Council and then vote on it. However, the Obama administration rejects that and says that the conclusion of such an agreement is part of the powers of the executive authority exclusively and the congressional interference in the matter will create a precedent.
5. As for the position of the Zionist entity, Netanyahu said, “The framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program threatens the survival of Israel.” knowing that before the announcement of a deal in Lausanne he called for any agreement should oblige a “significant reduction in the nuclear capacity of Iran” and he said “the best agreement would be the one that reduces the nuclear infrastructure. The best agreement will link the lifting of sanctions imposed to Tehran’s nuclear program by changing Iranian behavior”, all of this was materialized in the Lausanne agreement. The extortionate position of Netanyahu is to get more aid and US pledges to protect the Zionist entity, and to confirm his previous position he expressed on this issue for the purposes of the election which he won, and to strengthen his relationship with the Republicans coming to power, as he perceives, in the upcoming US presidential election in 2016. Netanyahu went to America to deliver a speech in Congress at the invitation of the Republicans and spoke to them about the dangers of the agreement with Iran. He knows that the agreement undermines Iran’s capabilities to produce nuclear weapons and knows that Iran is playing a role in the region decreed to them; Iran protects the Syrian regime, which ensures its security on the Golan Heights, and it will occupy the area in internal wars and prevent the unity of the Muslims under one central leadership.
As for Iran, it has waived its programs to increase uranium enrichment and accepted to bring it down to a minimum, so that it cannot produce a nuclear weapon. The number of centrifuges has been reduced to one-third. And will remain under international control for 25 years. It will be committed to it for all the agreed time, this was stated by its president.
What matters to Iran is the lifting of the sanctions and engagement in the region to play its role under the pretext of common interests and achieve a regional supremacy for itself by joining hands with western powers under the supreme leadership of the state which was once dubbed by Iranian clerics as Shaitan-e-Buzurg. The clerics have placed the country´s economic issues before its strategic goals. While many may choose to criticize the Ayatollahs for the treaty, common Iranians will feel less curious since the Ayatollahs had never faltered in delivering fatwas (religious edicts) against the building of nuclear weapons, seen by the religious establishment as unIslamic and against the Holy Law (Shareeah). Iranian clerics can now smile all the way back claiming they got something really big from the international community by giving up what they never wanted (nukes) in the first place anyway!