At last, the long-anticipated deal between Iran and the negotiating representatives of the West has been reached after countless missed, then extended deadlines, weeks of marathon talks and oscillating hope. The old maxim: “Things only get better with time” need not apply, however, to this excruciating timeline plagued by boastful remarks, shameful misgivings and incessant brinksmanship at the hands of both parties. As the ramifications of this historic accord begin to slowly take shape away from the deal’s historic epicenter, there now exists, for the first time in over 35 years, a highly sought-after prospect of quasi-normalization of relations between long-standing enemies and an acceptance, albeit grudgingly, of time-honored errors.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a remarkable culmination of nearly two years of old-school, relentless negotiations – led by the United States and Iran carrying themselves with aplomb – aimed at bringing about an amicable resolution to a seemingly unbridgeable chasm between competing stances and ideologies, seeks to cap and resolve over a decades-worth of caustic animosity obfuscating Iran’s nuclear program.
WHILE THERE will be no shortage of unhappy constituents lining up to eviscerate the parties and persons involved in the landmark negotiation, this is the deal at hand and the deal that must be honored fully as the world begins its overdue transition away from brinkmanship and opting instead for statesmanship. Regrettably, no mutation of this deal, or any deal for that matter, was ever going to fully placate the radically warped cravings of America’s hawkish Congress, Iran’s hardline conservatives, Israel’s apartheid government, Saudi Arabia’s dictatorial ruling family and Egypt’s un-elected leadership, thus despite their loudest kvetching, the world consciously decided to disregard this cacophonic white noise. The most critical stage, however, is yet to come: fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding whereby the negotiating parties can move forward in assuring the JCPOA’s comprehensive implementation.
The implementation of this landmark deal provides the only legitimate and practical resolution to Iran’s nuclear issue which has been marred by the continued Western prospects of both overt and covert sabotage, espionage and – in the worst-case scenario –incessant threats of military engagement and regime change. Anyone who earnestly argues against and lambasts the tenets of this accord is doing a disservice not only to themselves, their reputation and their constituents, but also risks looking like an injudicious, rash figment of history who stood on the wrong side of diplomacy at a juncture where courageous leadership was so desperately required.
Under this historical agreement, Iran would be subject to the most robust and intrusive set of inspections with very minimal leeway for maneuverability or dissent from the agreed-upon guidelines. Furthermore, Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity will be significantly capped while 98 percent of its enriched uranium stockpile will be reduced. For the purpose of insurance, the West has preserved itself the legal and opportunistic right to re-impose soon-to-be lifted sanctions (under the “snap-back” provision) should Iran opt to cheat and renege on its end of the bargain. On the most pressing issue that threatened to derail the talks altogether – the 2006 United Nations arms embargo imposed on Iran – the parties agreed to missile restrictions remaining in effect for eight years while a similar ban on the purchase and sale of conventional weapons would be removed in five years. As a quid pro quo for Iran’s compliance and only after its good behavior vis-à-vis the tenets of the accord, Western and United Nations’ nuclear-related economic sanctions will be lifted and its international assets would be subsequently unfrozen allowing Iran to rejoin the international banking system and reinvigorate its pulverized economy after being so desperately cash-strapped as a consequence of a plethora of draconian sanctions.
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"...the world consciously decided to disregard this cacophonic white noise"
Permitting Iran to reconnect with the greater community of nations, in all measurable degrees as subscribed to the arrangement, and the convenient SWIFT network embodies Iran’s Prime Minister Javad Zarif’s persistent notion of arriving at a “win-win” scenario which envisaged an outcome whereby Iran and the West both preserve and relinquish equitable degrees of policy points for the sake of attaining a larger net sum of mutually beneficial gains. Under the current climate of the deal and Iran’s reemergence onto the world scene as a now internationally accepted actor, the “win-win” state of affairs could not be more evident.
Iran represents, to the world, the largest, most resourceful and most lucrative untapped market in existence today. As it stands, Iran is poised to splurge on what will surely amount to the biggest economic rumpus since the Soviet Union’s collapse. Western business representatives have long been chomping at the bit to sink their teeth into Iran, but have refrained for the most part, due to fear of repercussions from sanctions levied against Iran. Now though, the prospects for such an economic free-for-all are set into motion; and by all accounts Iran will splurge from the chaotic bidding handsomely.
What has transpired in the past two years of negotiations is a referendum on tactical efficacy that should be noted and emulated moving forward – talking to an adversary instead of bombing them actually generates results. Unlike the Iraqi experience, the Iranian scenario was fostered and subsequently nurtured through the increase of communication rather than commandos. As it pertains to Iran, two years of diplomacy succeeded in bringing about what three decades of coercion, threats and pressure could not. The former produced an atmosphere conducive to arriving at resolutions to a 13-year old nuclear dispute in a way the previous administration failed so miserably to comprehend and achieve. The JCPOA, in fact, marks the first time in contemporary history where the world was able to unite and resolve a truly important international issue through a diplomatic fashion, as opposed to military confrontation – a blueprint that one hopes will be employed in future disputes.
THIS IMPORTANT achievement and the manner it was reached through resemble, in effect, a rekindling of trust of sorts between two old acquaintances with recent bad blood between them. While many overzealous individuals portend this milestone as something akin to the Nixon-China visit, such a comparison, and all of its ramifications, are rather overblown. This groundbreaking accord represents merely a mutual understanding about nuclear proliferation and the immediate associations therein. Graduating to embassy opening, delegation exchange, full-fledged international diplomatic relations will take time and even more talking. In Churchillian terms, this momentous breakthrough is merely “the end of the beginning.”
While the historic nuclear pact between Iran and the West was largely billed to bring about the elimination of perceived threats and the reassurance of nuclear passivity, there can also be, as there always is, divergent interpretations of the implications as to what will truly transpire in the long-term manifestation of the deal. As the 13th century Persian poet Rumi famously said: “Patience is not sitting and waiting, it is foreseeing. It is looking at the thorn and seeing the rose, looking at the night and seeing the day.” Let us heed these ageless words and not just look at the deal, but foresee the promise it personifies.