Iran and the world powers have reached a new milestone by agreeing to a new framework for a final deal that would end the Iran nuclear crisis and put Iran on a new path in its relations with the international community.
Described as a “decisive step” by European Union’s foreign policy representative Federica Mogherini, the joint statement on behalf of Iran and the “P5 +1” nations cites significant progress in delineating the key parameters of the final 10-year agreement. These include agreements on the level and scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment, the heavy water reactor in Arak, the conversion of underground Fordo facility from enrichment to nuclear research, robust international inspections, and provisions for the concurrent lifting of sanctions on Iran.
By all indications, this is a “win-win” milestone that builds on the achievements of the 2013 Geneva “interim agreement,” which has been extended twice, until July 2015. On the one hand, the common “framework of understanding” fully addresses the proliferation concerns by fettering Iran’s enrichment program and subjecting it to unprecedented intrusive inspections while ensuring that Iran’s plutonium path to nuclear weapons is also effectively blocked by redesigning the Arak facility and precluding a reprocessing plant under a joint international venture.
On the other hand, the agreement reached in Lausanne calls for the lifting of all UN, US, and European nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, i.e., a key Iranian demand, which will undoubtedly be a great cause for celebration in Iran, as well as a timely victory for the moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is determined to achieve detente with the West. This is also welcome news for US and European companies to reenter the Iranian market after a long hiatus.
Expectations are high in Iran that a nuclear deal will pave the way for closer cooperation between Iran and the United States. For sure, a final settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue will inevitably introduce newly-formulated parameters and technical modalities at the regional level, which will enhance non-proliferation efforts, in light of UN’s proposed nuclear-weapons free zone in the Middle East.
Also, a nuclear deal will act as a catalyst in shared interests between the United States and Iran — both support the new governments in Afghanistan and Iraq and both are fighting the menace of ISIS extremists. The Iraqi government has finally liberated the city of Tikrit from ISIS and credit must also go to both Iran’s military assistance as well as US precision bombings. The stage is now set for a future campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which has been thrown to dark ages since ISIS’s takeover last Summer.
As a result of twin progress in nuclear talks and in counterterrorism efforts, there is a brave new season in relations between United States and Iran. Although much work is still needed, the breakthrough in Lausanne promises a smoother path ahead, with multiple positive ramifications for international peace and security. Barring unforeseen developments, such as efforts by hawkish US politicians to torpedo the deal, the future prospects of Iran nuclear talks are bright and promising.
Kaveh Afrasiabi is a former political science professor at Tehran University and former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team. Nader Entessar is chair of department of political science at the University of South Alabama. They are authors of the forthcoming book “Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Detente and Negotiations Since the Geneva Accord of 2013.’’