Celebrations and caution alike follow Iranian nuclear deal

Celebrations and caution alike follow Iranian nuclear deal
4 min read
03 Apr, 2015
Comment: Although the Iran deal is still at a framework stage, there are hopes that the agreement will help ease sectarian tensions in the region.
World powers are optimistic about the Iranian nuclear deal [AFP]

After days of last-minute back and forth negotiations, diplomats in the Swiss city of Lausanne have finally reached a framework agreement to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear programme.

The outline was reached after years of talks between Tehran and the so called P5+1 - the United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia, France plus Germany.

To and fro

The agreement will reduce Iran's stockpiles of enriched uranium by 98 percent and its installed centrifuges by two-thirds.

In exchange, Tehran will benefit from a gradual lifting of sanctions, according to Iran's commitment to the terms of the agreement.

"This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon," said a satisfied Barack Obama. 

But the US president did warn Iran that if it "tricks" the international community it could possibly face even harsher sanctions.

He also took on the sceptics, who are plenty. 

"Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world's major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?” he asked critics.

Chief among those critics is Israel.

"If Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure that Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option."

The present challenge for the US administration is to safely get the agreement through Congress. Republicans are trying hard to please Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby, and may block Obama's bill to ease sanctions on Iran.

This would be disastrous for the whole agreement and damage the US' standing in the world. This is something Obama has warned of.

Arguably the outline of this transitional development is relatively comforting, and gives genuine grounds for hope that the deadline for a final agreement will be reached by June 30.

As long as the framework agreement has been done well it is likely that the next three months of negotiations will be positive - even if we cannot say that a final agreement is in force.

Obstacles in the way

In this transitional phase it is inevitable that Israel will launch an intense campaign to discredit the agreement in general and in particular Iran's intentions.

     Over the coming months Netanyahu will work on derailing the agreement in the Republican-majority Congress.

Netanyahu thinks he can rely on his supporters in the US, particularly the Republican right-wing in Congress and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [Aipac], to stop the agreement.

Over the coming months Netanyahu will work on derailing the agreement in the Republican-majority Congress.

However, the deep resentment he faces from many Jewish groups because of his policies and provocations will weaken the drive behind his demands.

The White House is expected to adhere to all the clauses in the agreement - successful negotiations with Iran would be an integral part of Obama's presidential legacy.

But away from Netanyahu's desire to beat the drums of war, the huge welcome the agreement has received in the streets of Tehran gives room for hope that it the powers are on the path to defusing tensions ravaging the region.

Reinforcing this optimism was the cautious, yet positive, reception of the agreement by the king of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud.

Caution and hope

He expressed his hope in a phone call with Obama that Iran would stick to the terms of the agreement.

This deal has been realised after many bumps on the road and has given the international community more concessions from Iran than was expected. Even the US has admitted this.

The Iranian concessions are possibly a result of fears that harsher sanctions might be slapped on them, or military action taken, if the negotiations failed.

Tehran has also agreed to the concessions, possibly because of the pressure created by the imposed economic sanctions, which has only worsened with the drop in oil prices.

Regardless of the motives, this agreement could reduce some of the sectarian tensions engulfing the region and create space for calm and dialogue between concerned parties.

Then, perhaps, they will come to understandings on the many problematic issues dividing them.

The opportunity must be seized with this Iranian openness to get rid of hysterical expressions from political discourse, adopt prudence in the prevailing communications of this period and find peaceful solutions that reach areas with ongoing fighting and tensions.

Throughout this, warring parties could possibly find a solution to the crisis in Yemen and bring the country back to an environment of safety and stability.

But let us not get too optimistic. So far nothing is guaranteed.

The agreement is still just at a framework stage and, of course, not all problems will be solved.

But the hope that is driving us is that the agreement will calm the sectarian tensions rampant in the Arab world and lead all interested parties to abandon dictates and adopt the language of dialogue and persuasion. 

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. 

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.