The Iran Nuclear Deal

On the 14th of July, the negotiating committee of the five World Powers + Germany (known as P5 + 1) announced that it has reached an agreement with Iran for halting its nuclear progress and lifting of global sanctions against Iran.

This was a real breakthrough after some 20 months of negotiations with a rather proud country, which defied the U.S. for a long time. The U.S. is yet to forget the seizure of its Embassy in Tehran by the revolutionary people of Iran in 1979. After that event, things have never been the same between the two countries.

Iran has somehow managed its affairs for the past several years despite the crushing impact of the sanctions imposed on it. It would have been much harder for a country of less stature than Iran. Iran violated several global agreements it has signed in the past, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty being one of them. Unlike India, Israel and Pakistan, Iran signed the NPT and so has been bound by its rules. When it violated those rules by enriching Uranium to bomb-grade material, it is no wonder the world powers got extremely upset. Apart from the U.S. sanctions, the U.N. also imposed sanctions which have dealt a crippling blow to Iran.

However, now is the time to congratulate diplomacy.

The alternative of a war would have been a very expensive affair for the U.S. and its allies. Further, that would have been the second huge war by the U.S. in the Middle East (after the disastrous Iraq war which was waged by the U.S. on a false pretext, causing more than 300,000 civilian casualties), and in the case of Iran, it would have faced a much stronger and better organized foe.

John Kerry, the Secretary of State of the U.S., believed in diplomacy notwithstanding many problems. Israel was a major impediment to the negotiations. It is appropriate to say that Benjamin Netanhayu, the Prime Minister of Israel, did not like President Obama of the U.S., and the personal lack of chemistry contributed to the backlash against the Iran deal in Israel. While Israel is right to voice its opinion, and is probably right in assessing that its security would be under threat by Iran, another war in the Middle East is just not an option.

The next major impediment would be the U.S. Congress where there would be a tough fight against the just concluded deal. There is bipartisan support for Israel and also bipartisan animosity against Iran. Those feelings would play out in the coming weeks – the Congress has 60 days to approve or reject the deal. President Obama has promised to veto a rejection of the deal, and it would be almost impossible to secure a two-thirds majority against a Presidential veto.

The European Union countries, Japan, China, Russia and India are waiting to do business with Iran. There is a lot of business to be had in the coming years. There is possibility that Iran could transform itself into a democracy, unlike Egypt which has been sliding back into a dictatorship. Even the U.S. can start some joint business ventures with Iran, who knows ?

Overall, my assessment is that the Iran Nuclear Deal is a very positive development. Iran is the largest country in the Middle East, and is one of the leading oil suppliers in the world. Iran could become a good manufacturing base for automotives and thousands of other products. A productive Iran with a positive orientation to world affairs, can contribute a lot to the world. I hope that either side does not cause a destruction to what has been a glorious achievement of diplomacy.


Vijay Srinivasan

17th July 2015


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