Iran and US reach a historic deal. Will the moderates prevail in a final accord?
- Getty Images
A historic deal has been reached between the United States and Iran. An interim agreement that would see curbs placed on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief was hammered out in Geneva. Years of mutual suspicion, missed opportunities and unhelpful diplomatic posturing on both sides finally crystallised into cautious optimism and the first glimmers of pragmatic understanding.
The deal will see $4bn in Iranian oil revenues unfrozen and restrictions on Iran’s trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and aircraft parts partially lifted. Iran meanwhile has pledged to stop enriching uranium above 5%, dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium, freeze its’ enrichment capacity and uranium stockpiles, halt work at Arak and accept unusually intrusive IAEA inspections.
This comes as a triumph for moderates on both sides of the equation. It is being heralded as President Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement and is testament both to Secretary of State John Kerry’s determination to reach a diplomatic solution and the mandate Iranian President Rohani has for a new approach to the West. The current deal is only scheduled to last 6 months in lieu of a permanent accord, and the most contentious issue- whether Iran does indeed have a right to enrichment has been left unresolved with both sides claiming victory on that front.
Israeli reaction was predictably hyperbolic with the fervently right wing premier Binyamin Netanyahu seeing just how many times he could fit the word ‘dangerous’ into a sentence and calling the deal a ‘historic mistake’. Israeli ministers warned darkly of unilateral action and even spoke of being ‘stabbed in the back’ by the US while Saudi Arabia, now locked in an unlikely alliance with Israel over Iran, remained sulkily silent.
Members of Congress in America meanwhile proved once more how unfit they are to lead the world’s most powerful country. Many Republicans and indeed some Democrats seemed unable to grasp the importance of reaching a diplomatic solution and threatened further sanctions. They apparently view the continuation of full frontal pressure as they key to ‘absolute surrender’ rather than increased tensions and a higher likelihood of a totally unnecessary war. While pointing at hardline pressure can often help moderates trying to reach a deal, Congress has proved over recent months that it is more than capable of wrecking a sensible plan and plunging over a precipice.
Concessions that may not survive negotiations for a permanent deal have been made, and nothing is yet settled. Much will depend on a continued spirit of diplomatic openness in the face of trenchant opposition, something both sides have thus far managed admirably. But with the veil lifted off secret negotiations between Iran and the US outside the P5+1 forum, dissenting, zealous voices may begin to take a damaging toll. But for now, the future looks tentatively positive and a major step towards peaceful rapprochement has been taken. And that is cause for celebration.