Although the interim accord between Iran and the six world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program in Geneva has sparked some criticism among a number of skeptic media outlets and lawmakers in Iran who are not optimistic about the promises made by the United States and its European allies, it seems that virtually everybody in Iran is happy about the historic agreement seen as a first step to bring to an end to the decade-long controversy over Iran’s nuclear program.
The agreement that was announced on November 24 by the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton after the foreign ministers of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany diverted their planes to Geneva to seize the unique opportunity created by four days of intensive and sensitive talks to strike a deal with Iran. According to the deal, Tehran will put some technical limitations on certain aspects of its nuclear program and get relief from some of the economic sanctions in return.
"Iran has made a remarkable benefit, although some critics believe that it should have gotten more"
Since there are still some kind of mistrust and streaks of bitterness in the Iran-U.S. relations after three decades of alienation, the high-ranking officials of the two countries try not to exaggerate the importance of the deal and talk in a cautious and somewhat conservative manner. However, it’s incontestable that the benchmark agreement put an end to more than 10 years of inconclusive talks which rarely yielded significant and fruitful results, and opened up new horizons for cooperation and reaching a lasting agreement to the benefit of the whole international community.
As stipulated in the final version of the 4-page Joint Plan of Action co-adopted by Iran and the six world powers, the contents of the current agreement will be implemented for a period of 6 months, and during this period, which is renewable, the two sides will hold negotiations on the comprehensive agreement which will eventually lead to the complete removal of all the sanctions imposed against Iran by the UN Security Council, the European Union and other countries.
The final step of the comprehensive solution would “comprehensively lift UN Security Council, multilateral and national nuclear-related sanctions, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy, on a schedule to be agreed upon.”
Based on the nuclear deal, Iran will be committed to adopt some confidence-building measures on a voluntary basis, including abiding by not enriching uranium to more than 5% purity, building no new locations for uranium enrichment, carrying out no reprocessing activities or constructing sites capable of reprocessing uranium. Moreover, Iran will retain half of its stockpile of existing uranium enriched to 20% as working stock of 20% oxide for fabrication of fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor and “dilute the remaining 20% UF6 to no more than 5%.”
These are compromises which Iran has naturally made to receive concessions from the West, and it should be noted that for the first step, Iran has made a remarkable benefit, although some critics believe that it should have gotten more. They’re right, because Iran’s dossier was referred to the UN Security Council by the IAEA Board of Governors in February 2006 without any justifications or legal warranty. However, during the course of negotiations with the six world powers, Iran is trying to regain its stolen rights, and this is what makes the Iranian diplomacy immensely delicate, wise and effective. Making concessions, which should not be necessarily interpreted as retreatment, surrendering and relinquishment, is part of any mutually-agreed deal, especially in such a high level that the foreign ministers of the most economically, politically powerful countries in the world have willingly sat at the negotiation table with the representatives of Iran to solve a conflict which has lasted for more than 10 years.
The international community embraced the historic deal and reacted to it positively, although there are always hawkish people that find peace and reconciliation harmful to their interests. Israel’s extremely infuriated and apprehensive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the agreement a “historic mistake”, saying that Israel will not be bound by the agreement. He might have been implying that Israel is still considering a unilateral military attack against Iran, but he clearly knows that any foolish decision to launch a war against Iran will end in a regrettable disaster for the entity he is representing.
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The U.S. President Barack Obama also welcomed the interim deal, although in the statement he made on November 23, he expressed ambivalent and double-sided remarks, apparently indicating that he is afraid of the interest groups, the Israeli lobby and the warmongering Congressmen, who under the influence of Israel have always opposed diplomacy with Iran and a peaceful settlement of the nuclear dispute and further than that, sought not only the complete abandonment of Iran’s nuclear program, but even a regime change and overthrowing of the Iranian government.
In parts of his statement, President Obama said, “While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back… These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.”
Obama was seemingly trying to portray the agreement a victory for the United States that has successfully prevented Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But he has certainly forgotten that Iranian officials have over and over stated and clarified that Iran is not after producing nuclear weapons and that such weapons play no role in Iran’s defensive doctrine. Or perhaps he has been trying to find a face-saving way to downplay the importance of the removal of the sanctions for the imposition of which the United States had invested a lot of time, energy and also quite a lot of diplomatic lobbying across the world.
"Iranian diplomacy is working effectively"
According to the deal, the sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports, automobile industry and trade of gold and other precious metals would be lifted. Moreover, a certain amount of Iran’s frozen assets at the foreign banks will be released. According to the Mohammad Baqer Nobakht, the spokesman to President Hassan Rouhani, the United States government has released $8 billion of Iran’s frozen assets since the conclusion of the Geneva accord. It’s expected that more frozen assets will be released in the coming days. Some Iranian newspapers have speculated that around $50 billion of Iran’s properties deposited in the European and U.S. banks will be freed.
Of course the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is a dexterous and seasoned diplomat, was essential to the conclusion of the benchmark agreement between Iran and the six world powers. With several years of experience as Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Zarif demonstrated an unrelenting perseverance in leading the talks and aside from his humorous gestures before the reporters, he seriously directed the course of negotiations to the final agreement. It can be indubitably said that Iran is on the path of fulfilling its inalienable rights through holding comprehensive talks with the world powers, and this will not happen without the delicate diplomacy of Iranian negotiators headed by Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The fact that Iran’s nuclear program will remain unaffected by the Geneva accord, and that Iran will experience a remarkable relief from the sanctions shows that the Iranian diplomacy is working effectively.
In his recent post on the social networking website Facebook, Dr. Zarif wrote, “the art of diplomats is to hide the tensions behind the smiles.” He skillfully hid the fatigue of four days and nights of intense negotiations behind his smiles. Iranian diplomats who have just returned home from Geneva need to be told a big “well done!”
The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not neccessarily reflect those of Your Middle East.