After decades of hostility between Iran and the West, the next couple months could potentially mark a historical turning point in the relationship as Iran has agreed to discuss a nuclear non-proliferation deal.
The agreement was announced on 2 April, after months of deliberation between Tehran and Washington D.C. and has paved the way for further discussion between Iran and the United States of America, as both parties are hopeful that a deal will be signed before the end of June 2015
The deal represents an opportunity to reduce proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, which remains one of the most politically unstable regions of the world in which weapons of mass destruction are the biggest threat to international and civilian security.
Western promises in return for Iranian compliance represent the backbone of this deal. The US and the United Nations have agreed to gradually reduce sanctions on Iran, once the International Atomic Agency provides the necessary proof that Iran has held its end of the bargain.
Friction over Iran’s nuclear power have been embedded in US-Iranian relations since the Bush administration, when the President labelled Iran a part of the ‘Axis of evil’ in the region. This disparity has led the US, UN and European Union to place sanctions on Iran’s financial and energy sector, as a response to illegal nuclear weapons activities being recorded since 2002.
Sanctions include prevention of energy imports, bans on financial transactions with Iranian banks and asset freezes that isolate Iran in the global economy. With the Iranian currency’s value plunging in comparison to the US dollar, inflation has been on the rise for years and is massively punishing the Iranian population.
The deal-to-be is far from being accepted unanimously. Congress continues to oppose Barack Obama on his policy-making strategy and the agreement has become yet another arena for conflict within US power holders. The see the possible deal as merely delaying the crisis rather then constraining nuclear proliferation altogether
Members of Capitol Hill are not the only opponents of this possible deal, and count the Israeli prime minister on their side. The Israelis are also concerned that an end to sanctions against Iran will be counter-productive and increase the latter’s military position in the Gulf, which is particularly troubling for its neighbours.
Israel’s hostility towards collaboration with Iran is rooted in a history of tensions between the two countries. Iranian leaders have historically refused to recognise both Israel as an independent state, but also the historical reality of the Holocaust. The Prime Minister would like Iran to be forced to recognise Israel’s sovereignty but Obama claims that political conditionality would threaten the likelihood of reaching a formal deal.
Saudi Arabia has also publicly spoken about concerns over the discussions this month. The Saudis fear that Iran will continue its quest for nuclear power once the agreement expires in ten to fifteen years, during which the pressure of sanctions will be taken off Iran and the West will continue to live in a diplomatic progression illusion with the the Middle Eastern country.
As the US-Iranian relation is darkened by decades of political division, a deal on nuclear power provides a framework for peaceful relations between both nations, in which hostility and suspicion are no longer dictating deliberation.
The consensus will bring down diplomatic barriers between Iran and the West, and there is hope that the political chemistry between the leaders of these talks will give way to further collaboration regarding other issues that stain the Middle Eastern political scene.
Photo credits: United States Department of State