Iran's foreign minister, who led the coutnry's negotiating team in Vienna, was feted in street celebrations in Tehran after the deal was announced
© AFP file, Atta Kenare
Iran's foreign minister, who led the coutnry's negotiating team in Vienna, was feted in street celebrations in Tehran after the deal was announced
Last updated: July 28, 2015
The Vienna nuclear deal – from an Iranian perspective

"The world should now sigh in relief"

Banner Icon The deal is a triumph for the brigades of peace, and marks the reemergence of Iran in the international community, writes journalist Kourosh Ziabari.

Let me jump to an early conclusion about the historic nuclear deal achieved by Iran and the six world powers (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) on July 14: the Iranian, American and Israeli critics of the deal, I bet, haven’t even bothered to read the text of the 159-page Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. To be honest, they’re either practically incapable of grasping and comprehending the highly technical, well-crafted, exhaustive deal or don’t have the time to review its content and simply crave for shouting something against it in general, like that it was a “historic mistake”. 

For the United States and its allies, who said they were seeking for assurances that Iran’s nuclear program will remain exclusively peaceful and civilian, this deal means an extra-assurance. It’s beyond imagination, that even the “highest possible flow rate for coolant” at the Arak heavy water reactor (IR-40) is determined to be 610 kg/s at the pressure of 0.33 MPa in the main piping system – as noted on page 48 of the JCPOA. And the lattice configuration for the IR-40 will be “hexagonal” – you can find this on page 49. It means that the most minute, infinitesimal details about literally every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program have been negotiated, discussed, and agreed upon by Iran and the E3/EU+3, and now, there’s no room for voluntary interpretation of its terms and stipulations. It means that Iran – although it consistently maintained that it won’t move towards producing nuclear weapons – even if it desires to, won’t have the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb, because the breakout time now has increased from three months to one year, and every attempt by Iran to produce an explosive device or anything contributing to the production of a nuclear weapon would be nipped in the bud. 

For Iran, it’s a historic victory; a victory for its diplomatic and military apparatus, for its economy and for its enthusiastic people who poured into the streets on the night of April 14 to celebrate what Abdullah Gul termed the world’s biggest diplomatic victory after the Cold War. It’s explicitly mentioned in the text of the JCPOA that the United States – having cut its trade and business transactions with Iran for nearly four decades – will allow its companies to import Iranian carpets, pistachio and caviar, namely the benchmarks of Iran’s domestic, non-oil production. It’s just the tip of the iceberg though. “All” the nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, including sanctions on Iran’s banking, financial, trade, insurance, energy, transportation and aviation sectors will be “terminated” immediately following the “Implementation Day”; some of them for a specific period of time, and others, forever. McDonald’s, a symbol of American popular culture and an icon of its global influence, has already released an “international franchising application for Iran”, which is again an indicator of the Western firms’ impatience for starting or resuming their faltered business with Iran. 

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This agreement, which even the White House admits is a historic one, will prevent Iran from acquiring the nuclear bomb – which it has never been seeking – and open up a new chapter in Iran’s relations with the community of nations. Just more than a couple of months ago, I was watching Charlie Rose’s interview with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, where the veteran journalist asked Iran’s top diplomat why Iran didn’t give the international community satisfactory guarantees that it’s not really trying to manufacture nuclear bombs and blow up Israel. He might have waited a little longer to see what the Iranian negotiating team, praised by friends and foes across the globe, had to offer. Mohammad Javad Zarif is not simply being lauded in his capacity as a diplomat, educated in the United States, who managed to mastermind a major diplomatic agreement, but is now seen by millions of Iranians as a national hero who salvaged Iran’s economy, Iranian dignity and moved Iran in the direction of being reinstated in the international community. 

Even the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, whose remarks are often exploited by the hardliners in Iran to demoralize President Rouhani and his team, eulogized the nuclear negotiators and thanked President Rouhani for his “tireless efforts” in bringing the negotiations to a conclusion, a “milestone”, he said.

"...literally every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program have been negotiated"

When President Rouhani came to power in June 2013 and first talked of a win-win solution over the nuclear program – while the President before him had pledged that Iran won’t ever negotiate over its “inalienable rights” – few people could visualize what he had in mind. The future at that point seemed incredibly bleak, uncertain and frightening. President Obama was continuously talking of all the options being on the table, Chuck Hagel and Ashton Carter were issuing unwarranted war threats against Iran, and of course Bibi Netanyahu, whom I think is now the most isolated man in the Middle East, was cheering on the nuclear read-line travesty he exultantly presented to the UN General Assembly. 

Of course when you choose the path of confrontation and animosity, you’ll be dealt with spitefully. Confrontation was the path President Ahmadinejad adopted. He is not blameworthy, because when you don’t have the adequate credentials and experience to assume the role of presidency in such a large, diverse and pluralistic society as Iran, then you’ll engulf yourself in a labyrinth of mistakes which simply take a toll on a large group of people who don’t deserve the punishment you’ll be imposing on them. 

When I was reading the text of the JCPOA, I told myself, Mr. Ahmadinejad and his nuclear negotiating team headed by Mr. Saeed Jalili, who would travel to Istanbul, Baghdad, Almaty, Vienna and Geneva once in a while to hold one or two-day negotiations with the group of six world powers – while publicly, adamantly insisting that they won’t directly talk to the US interlocutors, honestly couldn’t have been able to ink such a robust and compelling agreement, first and foremost because they were essentially unfitted for the role they were assigned and unfamiliar with the alphabet of diplomatic negotiation. They didn’t have a roadmap. Simply chanting that “uranium enrichment is our obvious right” won’t solve all the problems overnight. They were a group of theologians teaching at universities, without any background in international relations and foreign policy or any executive experience, thus lacking the authority to negotiate on key details and after every round of talks, they would turn to the reporters, read a statement, saying that they won’t retreat from their position, and will take the outcome of the negotiations to the capital, Tehran, for further consideration.

Moreover, they were simply squandering their time on choosing the time and place of the negotiations, and bringing large groups of security guards with them to the talks, which is not the way diplomacy works. Of course I’m not judging their moral virtues. They were decent people, having served the country on different levels, but to call a spade a spade, they were not supposed and able to bring the nuclear deadlock to an end. 

The world should now sigh in relief. Although as Iranians, it was clear to us from day one that there was no intention for the production of nuclear weapons on the side of our statesmen, the world didn’t trust the Iranian government, and needed something like an oath. Now, I think they have the strongest assurance possible, as the format, framework and wording of the JCPOA is so unequivocal and substantive that nobody can dispute or violate it. Although President Obama may still find some reasons to call Iran a threat, at least the European leaders have refused to risk their reputation by repeating the old aggressive rhetoric against Iran. They know that it’s no longer possible to treat Iran disrespectfully. Read this story to see how many big European politicians have appreciated Iran for making the nuclear agreement possible, admitting that Iran has now assumed a new role in global politics. 

I think it would be better for the Congressional hawks to simply give the nuclear deal a green light and make sure that they won’t make the US government the villain of the failure of the agreement. And I also believe the Iranian conservative parliamentarians had better endorse the nuclear deal without nitpicking on its technicalities to secure some seats for their own camp in the upcoming 2016 legislative elections.

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