After 20 months of tough negotiations, some quite gruelling, Iran and the global powers have succeeded in sealing a nuclear deal, a deal that both sides deservedly claim as vindication of their stated positions.
Iran always said its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes bereft of any move to develop nuclear weapons, and the deal presents it in that light. The P5+1 global powers wanted to take out the sting of nuclear option from Iran’s programme at least for ten years, and it believes it has.
That’s all the reason for celebrations both in Tehran and the world capitals. But as to how the deal would play out over the next few months and years it is quite likely that there may well be another round of tense negotiations between them, even though the agreed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is very detailed.
A joint commission comprising representatives of P5+1 and Iran will supervise implementation of the agreed plan, with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acting as the monitor. And, significantly, the deal tends to endorse Tehran’s claim that harnessing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes is its basic right, a concession selectively allowed by these very global powers – in that as some countries are being pampered the others are victimised by denying any co-operative assistance in terms of know-how and materials.
Questions are being raised. If Iran’s nuclear programme is accepted to the United States and other global players following the deal why not of others in the region, especially those from the Arabian peninsula? The Arab world has generally welcomed the deal but its most important member, Saudi Arabia, hasn’t made any statement on it.
Is it a possibility that Israel’s strong opposition of the deal would generate a common cause between Tel Aviv and Arab world capitals? What will happen to the anti-Assad rebellion now that Syrian president has welcomed the nuclear deal, or to the emerging across the board regional consensus against the self-styled Islamic State?
Is the P5+1’s argument that the deal bars sale of conventional weapons to Iran convincing enough to assuage the frayed nerves in the Arab capitals who are fighting Iran’s allies and proxies in a number of Middle East countries?
In essence, under the deal, Iran has agreed to roll back some parts of its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from some sanctions.
It has agreed to reduce its low-enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent from 10,000 kgs to 300 kgs over the next 15 years; reduce its centrifuges by a two-thirds from 19,000 to 5,060; limit enrichment to 3.67 percent for use in civilian nuclear power generation and research; the Fordo plant will be shut down; the Arak facility would be reprogrammed; and the IAEA inspections would be allowed to all declared nuclear facilities, including Parchin military facility.
That means Iran has agreed to abandon both the uranium and plutonium routes to its nuclear option. In return, the P5+1 will lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran after the United Nations has verified that some key steps in that direction have been taken by Iran.
And if Iran violates the agreed steps the ‘snap-back’ provision in the deal would take effect. Apparently, there is little reason for Iran to run afoul of the agreed plan that is built on the premise to delay Iran’s quest to make a single nuclear weapon by one year from the existing two to three months.
This is more a plan aimed at contriving to delay its “breakout” time than a move that seeks to rid it of its potential to become a nuclear weapon state in the long run. Obviously, while to some the glass is half full; to others, however, it is half empty.
However, what cannot be denied and will certainly materialise is the positive impact of the nuclear deal on the global economy, particularly in energy and financial sectors as 100 million dollars of its frozen assets are instantly released and its oil starts flowing uninterrupted into the international market.
Remember, President Hassan Rouhani had won the election on a promise to break Iran’s international isolation, and he has done it. An open Iran would offer enormous opportunities for joint ventures, foreign travel and jobs for outsiders.
For Pakistan also, the nuclear deal is a welcoming development. With sanctions now out of the way the prospects of early completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project have brightened.
Also, for Pakistan the reciprocal confidence-building measures relating to Iran’s nuclear programme, according to country’s Foreign Office “augurs well for peace and security in our region.”