Thursday, 28 November 2013

Reader reply - Deal in Geneva

Hi Nathan,

Thank you for your comments on Geneva talks outcome.

The deal was above all a deal between Iran and the US. And for the first time in three decades, a will to go through the diplomatic path emanated from both sides. During the Khatami era, Iran showed openness and a desire to ease up tensions through Khatami's Dialogue among civilisations. After 9/11, there was even a cooperation between Tehran and Washington to fight against the Taliban.

Unfortunately, George W. Bush branded Iran on the axis of evil and Iran went for a hard liner president with the election of Ahmadinejad. The latter adopted a provocative discourse against the West and Israel, using the nuclear issue to divert attention from domestic problems, their disastrous economic situation, and human rights issues.

The former French ambassador to Iran told me that at some point, President Sarkosy, once elected, was ready to negotiate with Iran on the nuclear issue but Ahmadinejad made things not happen. On the other hand, the former Iranian Ambassador to France told me that he had met with 400 French officials and that all diplomatic or trade negotiations were booked once reached to Sarkozy. In fact, after the lack of success to negotiate with Iran, the French adopted a harder line. We also saw that in 2010 the Iran/Turkey/Brazil deal did not convince the Great Powers to negotiate further with Iran. And this despite US previous approval of Brazil going ahead. This showed any deal had to be done between the US and Iran and that the will to dialogue was each time absent from one side or the other.

I don't think that the Iranians who have made all these efforts and have the support of the supreme leader will not respect the deal they have just reached with the P5+1. This is a little step, but a very good start.

Hi ....,

Very happy about the Geneva result. The imperatives and geopolitical realities leading to the agreement have been taking shape for years. It could be a very significant geopolitical pivot in the Middle East. This first step required only very mild concessions by Iran for sanctions relief. The next step will be much more difficult and apparently will require Iran to make much more significant concessions. The deal was reached because both the US and Iran believe cooperation is in their interests both now and in the future. Mr Obama looks like he’s been under some serious pressure and urgency lately to get this sorted out, but I think the greater movement in the end came from Mr Rouhani.

Overall, this deal gambles that small steps now might create political space for Mr Rouhani to agree to more extensive agreements down the road. A final agreement resolving the nuclear threat should include halting all uranium enrichment, removing all enriched uranium from the country, dismantling all centrifuges, halting work on the Arak reactor, and full access by the IAEA to suspected nuclear sites. There are no indications this pact will lead Iran to agree to such conditions and it could instead be read by Iran that it will retain the right to enrich reactor-grade uranium which could be one day be quickly converted into weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

Baby steps though. It’s very early in the progress, but it is a good sign.


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