Iran’s Nuclear Deal: Celebrations and Concerns

After 18 days of marathon talks in the Austrian capital Vienna, Iran has reached a deal with P5+1 superpower nations – China, France, Russia, the UK, USA and Germany on its nuclear program which is labelled worldwide as a historic deal after 12-year stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program.

The outcome followed a series of staggered deadlines and delays, but the accord was finally announced yesterday by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU’s Policy Chief Federica Mogherini via a joint statement.

The accord has yet to be made officially public, but will prevent Iran from producing enough material to make a nuclear weapon for at least ten years, while also imposing new provisions regarding inspections of Iranian facilities. Throughout negotiations, the Iranian politicians at the forefront of the deal have made many – at times conflicting statements on the future of Iran’s nuclear program.

Celebrations

U.S. President Barack Obama has expressed his relief from the White house:

“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region.” He also added, “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”  Obama responded to all criticisms regarding the nuclear deal and said, ‘This deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification’.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the deal as a “good deal”,

“This is a very good deal. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuke and ensures the necessary inspections & transparency.”

She continued, “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons. The joint comprehensive plan of action includes Iran’s own long-term plan, with agreed limitations on Iran’s nuclear programme, and will produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has been leading his country’s delegation in Vienna, described the agreement as a “win-win” solution but not perfect. He said “I believe this is a historic moment,” he said. “We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad praised Iran deal and labelled it as a “historic achievement”,

“In the name of the Syrian people, I congratulate you and the people of Iran on this historic achievement,” He added that it provided “clear recognition on the part of world powers of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, while preserving the national rights of your people and confirming the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

“We are confident Iran will continue, and with greater momentum, to support the peoples’ just causes and to work towards establishing peace and stability in the region and the world,” Assad said.

President Bashar Assad said he expected Iran to increase its backing of “just causes” throughout the region.  Iran is the main backer of the weakening Assad regime in Syria. Even under US and EU heavy sanctions, Tehran was able to supply Syria with about 60,000 barrels of oil per day. This allowed Syria to continue fighting against both Syrian revolutionaries and Jihadists.

Syrian Minister of Finance and Economy in the Syrian interim government, Ibrahim Miro, he said “The friends of Assad’s regime do not need bureaucracy to provide support to him, and they gave him billions of dollars, and the Iranian regime has given more than $15 billion since the Syrian uprising started in 2011.”  Without forgetting the aid from Russia which is worth around $1.5 billion Russia and these funds are supplemented by $500 million in fuel, $400 million in flour and other millions are in weapons and other economic sectors.

Iran has also been one of the main suppliers of manpower into the Syrian war.

Tehran reportedly sent tens of thousands of Shiite fighters from all countries that have significant number of Shiite populations like Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, to fight for Assad regime that is weakening.

Concerns

For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not welcome the deal, he said “When willing to make a deal at any cost, this is the result. From early reports, we can see that the deal is a historic mistake.”

Netanyahu said the deal threatens the security of Israel and of the entire world. “Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that an examination of the agreement raises two major dangers,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. “The agreement will allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons either after adhering to the agreement for 10-15 years, or by violating it beforehand. In addition, [the deal] will pump billions of dollars to the Iranian terror and war machine, which threatens Israel and the entire world.”

Israel’s prime minister has risked all, including his relationship with the United States, the Israeli prime minister should accept it as a fait accompli and try to repair his relationship with President Obama, which is more tense and troubled than any between an Israeli and American leader in more than 30 years.

Israel, Saudi Arabia and the other states who feel threatened by the terms of the new deal have been resigned for months to the idea that the US-led world powers were determined to have an agreement and were prepared to offer major concessions to get one. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sees Iran as a mortal enemy, has already said that the agreement shows the dangers of being ready to do a deal at any price, and Arab states of the Gulf, who see Iran as a dangerous and aggressive neighbor, will also feel that a much, much harder bargain could have been struck.

The Agreed Deal

The agreed deal includes a set of parameters for a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. They require Iran to carry out a set of tasks intended to extend its breakout time, the period it would take to produce enough fissile material for a warhead, to a year. The tasks include:

Removal of the core of the heavy water reactor at Arak, rendering it inoperable.

Agreement to the application of the additional protocol, a regime of enhanced inspections carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Cutting Iran’s installed centrifuges from about 19,000 to just over 6,000, of which slightly more than 5,000 would be used for enrichment. The remaining 13,000 would be disabled and put under IAEA seal.

Reduction of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) from more than eight tonnes to just 300 kg, either by dilution or export.

Cooperation with an IAEA investigation into evidence of past work on nuclear weaponisation, specifically the granting of access for inspectors to suspect sites and people.

Accept that sanctions would be rapidly restored by United States if the deal was violated.

United States and other world powers will help to teach Iran how to thwart and detect threats to its nuclear program, according to the parameters of a deal reached recently to rein in Iran’s contested nuclear program. Under the terms of a deal that provides Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief, Iran and global powers will cooperate to help teach Iran how to manage its nuclear infrastructure, which will largely remain intact under the deal. Also teaching Iran how to protect its nuclear infrastructure, world powers pledge in the agreement to help Iran construct next-generation centrifuges the machines that enrich uranium at its once secret nuclear site in Fordow.

The conventional arms embargo will last another five years, and restrictions on ballistic missile technology will last eight years. Under a complicated arrangement, a violation could lead to the automatic “snap-back” of sanctions within 65 days, if a dispute-resolution process failed. Iran and the P5+1 is have reached to an agreement, sanctions relief will affect the economy of Iran positively in four ways:

They will unfreeze billions of dollars in Iranian assets which is estimated to be $100 – $150 billion in Iranian foreign exchange reserves are being held in escrow in banks overseas, primarily oil revenues that U.S. sanctions block from being repatriated to Iran.

The removal of sanctions against exports of Iranian oil which is currently at about 1.4 million barrels per day, will increase oil revenues but with a delay of a few months at least.

Allow foreign firms to invest in Iran’s oil and gas, automobiles, hotels and other sectors.

Iran will restore its ability to trade with the rest of the world and use the global banking system, especially the interbank system of payments known as SWIFT.

Impact on the region:

There are fears that the nuclear agreement could spark a regional arms race in the region, Saudi Arabia would not sit idly by it, Saudi Arabia’s proposed nuclear power program has stalled in recent years over arguments over how extensive it should be and which government agency should control it, but Riyadh has still signed atomic cooperation deals with several countries.

Riyadh is considering a nuclear weapons program is even taken seriously is evidence of how far its relationship with the United States has changed in recent years after disagreements over crisis in Egypt and Syrian war following the Arab Spring that sparked in 2011.

Although it still regards Washington as a close ally, Saudi Arabia no longer believes it can count on the United States to defend it, and its allies, against what it sees as Iranian expansionism in Arab countries since the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to knock down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

As the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran continues to intensify and Iran nuclear negotiations agreed, many reports are talking about Saudi Arabia wanting its own nuclear weapon as the country grows increasingly wary of Iran’s potential threat.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said after the announcement after six world power leaders reached a nuclear deal with Iran that Israel was not guaranteed by it and signalled he remained ready to order military action. This is not the first time that Israel threatens to attack Iran because of its nuclear program.

While Obama believes the agreement could moderate Iran and bring it closer to the international community, while others feel the opposite is true. Iran would use the wealth it gains from oil and trade and since sanctions are lifted now they can support its Shiite proxies, Syrian regime, Hezbollah, Houthis and Iraqi Shiite militia, and further destabilize the region.

Iran has been able to support the Assad regime, while also supporting other proxies in Yemen and Iraq, while under sanctions. Now that sanctions are to be lifted with a nuclear agreement, Tehran will have substantially more room to increase its influence throughout the Middle East. Iran got only $100 billion and used 90% to help its economy, while the remaining $10 billion would have a potentially big impact in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

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