President Barack Obama, August 2013
© White House, via Flickr
President Barack Obama, August 2013
Last updated: November 19, 2014
Can a final nuclear deal with Iran serve as Obama’s silver bullet?

"Experts say Iran is not the only victim of the US-led sanctions"

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With the Nov. 24 deadline fast approaching, it is still unclear if Iran and the P5+1 countries – namely France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and the United States, plus Germany – will manage to hammer out a final deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.

As hardliners in both Tehran and Washington accuse their negotiating teams of giving unilateral and unbalanced incentives to their negotiating partners, the so-called "sanction mongers" in Congress have expanded their grip on power. 

Referring to Iran’s vast reserves of oil and gas, Western powers led by the U.S. have long accused Iran of running a covert nuclear program to build an atomic weapon. They claim the oil-rich country is not in need of nuclear power to meet its growing electricity demand. An argument that was countered by former spokesman for Iran's nuclear negotiators, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, in an article published in al-Monitor.

THE FORMER VIEW has been echoed by opposition forces outside Iran and some ordinary Iranians inside the country who say the political and economic costs of the nuclear program were not worth the price – pointing to sanctions.

Parham is the CEO of a private company operating with over 200 employees in Tehran. Their industry was among those hit hardest with unilateral sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union.

Complaining about millions of dollars in losses the embargoes have inflicted on the country, Parham said: “Our industry could have been in a much better position if it was not for the unnecessary sanctions that the government policies in the past years have brought on us.”

"Western powers led by the U.S. have long accused Iran of running a covert nuclear program"

But experts say Iran is not the only victim of the US-led sanctions. In July, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) published a report saying that between 1995 and 2012, the US had sacrificed at least $135 billion and as much as $175 billion in potential export revenues to Iran. The report went on to say that the sanctions have cost the US as many as 50,000 to 66,000 job opportunities each year.

But the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi, believes the country’s nuclear program cannot be assessed and evaluated “in the context of financial costs alone.”

In a recent speech at a summit on the nuclear industry in Tehran, which was attended by a group of private sector managers from a variety of industries, Kamalvandi said nuclear technology was a strategic factor which Iran could not do without. However, he stressed that the country was not after building nuclear weapons. 

Now with the latest blow to Democrats in the US midterm elections and Obama's multiple foreign policy failures, striking a final deal with Iran over the nuclear issue could in fact serve as President Barack Obama’s most significant, if not the only, foreign policy achievement of his tenure.

President Obama’s foreign policy has increasingly been under attack by Republicans and, to some extent, Democrats like Hillary Clinton. In August, the former secretary of state, and probable presidential candidate, criticized Obama’s strategy in Syria and pointed out that his ‘failure’ in supporting the anti-Assad forces left a big vacuum that was later filled by ISIS.

In oil-rich Libya, where the U.S. was involved in overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi, Washington’s hope for bringing democracy turned ugly as the country is now literally divided between two rival governments and al-Qaeda-linked groups have gained ground there.

IN THE HOLY LAND, Washington’s recent push for achieving a lasting solution for the overlong conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has also failed and some now warn that Israel will soon have to face a third Palestinian Intifada.

But experts say Obama’s foreign policy failures are not limited to the Middle East alone as they point to the crisis in Ukraine which has brought Washington’s relations with Moscow to an all-time low, reminiscent of their Cold War ties.

With the clock on Barack Obama’s presidency ticking away, one may wonder if he has a silver bullet up his sleeve to save his legacy.

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A former Iranian foreign ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, believes “striking a final deal with Iran that respects the country's nuclear rights” could pave the way for further cooperation between Iran and the U.S. in achieving “various shared interests.”

When asked to elaborate on some of these mutual interests, he was quick to point to the threat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, on which he said Iran was first to respond “by providing weapons, ammunition and consultation” to Iraqi officials while the U.S. and other Western countries “were busy making up their minds how to deal with the threat.”

The former diplomat added that “Washington is well aware of our influence and power in the region and understands that Iran as one of the region’s superpowers, has both the ability and clout in solving the issues that the Americans are concerned about, from as far as Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen.”

THE POSSIBILITY of cooperation between Iran and the West on issues like the threat of ISIS has also been underlined by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

In the meantime, the London Times reported that the United States was ready to discuss renewing diplomatic ties with Iran if a nuclear deal was reached. 

Although Washington denied the report, with less than a week remaining to the self-imposed November 24 deadline, it is still unclear if the Obama administration would seize the opportunity to strike a historic deal with Iran.

A deal that would leave a better legacy for Obama’s successor, and one that could lay the ground for breaking the ice of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington and re-engagement after more than 35 years. 

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