Voices from Russia

Monday, 2 December 2013

A Russian POV: Deal with Iran could Create New Balance of Power in the Middle East

00 Iran nuclear programme. political cartoon. 02.12.13


At a meeting in Genève, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (known as the P5+1) reached a deal with Iran. It stipulates that the Islamic Republic would halt enrichment of uranium above 5 percent purity and dispose of its stockpile of 20-percent-enriched uranium by diluting it to less than 5 percent. In addition, Iranian nuclear facilities in Fordow and Natanz would be under IAEA control, whilst it’d halt the construction of a heavy-water reactor at Arak, capable of producing plutonium. In return, the P5+1 group, or… to be more precise… the USA and the EU, agreed to ease some of the sanctions against Iran. This would allow Iran to resume limited trade relations with the USA in the oil and gas, petrochemical, and automotive sectors, as well as trading in gold and precious metals. The resulting benefit for Iran would amount to 5-7 billion USD (166.1-232.6 billion Roubles. 5.32-7.45 billion CAD. 5.48-7.68 billion AUD. 3.7-5.2 billion Euros. 3.1-4.3 billion UK Pounds).

However, this deal isn’t just about money. The P5+1 group tabled their demand that Iran shut down and dismantle its already operating centrifuges. This and other provisions of the deal allowed Iran to claim that its key demand… recognition of its right to enrich uranium… was met. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered the following clear summary of the essence of the compromise, “This deal means that we agree that it’s necessary to recognise Iran’s right to peaceful atoms, including the right to enrichment, provided that the questions that remain to the Iranian nuclear programme and the programme itself come under strict control of the IAEA. This is the final goal, but it’s already been set in today’s document”.

The opponents of the deal insist that Iran retained the potential to create a nuclear weapon. The whole of its uranium enrichment infrastructure remains intact. A disappointed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I emphasise… the deal doesn’t envisage the elimination of a single centrifuge”. Already, many experts pointed up that such a large nuclear infrastructure as Iran’s, which consists of some 17,000 enrichment centrifuges, is necessary if a country has 12-15 operating nuclear plants that require fuel rods. However, so far, Iran has only one nuclear power plant, in Bushehr, which receives fuel from Russia. The Iranians have a hard time trying to explain why they need so many centrifuges, but they’re ready for any form of control, including video cameras, meters, and snap inspections.

The willingness of the USA to agree to the deal also requires some explanation. Why has its attitude to the Iranian nuclear programme undergone such a sudden change? Why were American diplomats engaged in secret talks with Iran for nearly a year? After more than 30 years of hostility, why did Washington decide to relent on some of its demands? Granted, Hassan Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the President of Iran is no more than the head of government. Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Iran’s spiritual and supreme leader, decides all matters of principle… nothing has changed.

The answer may have more to do with American domestic politics than Iran itself. In the early 1970s, the USA suffered a devastating defeat in Vietnam. Then, the Watergate scandal forced US President Richard Nixon to resign under threat of impeachment. It was at that moment, putting all sentiments aside, that the USA resorted to an unprecedented rapprochement in relations with the People’s Republic of China. Today, the USA is coping with failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the challenges of the Arab Spring, and allies that would like to drag it into military operations in Libya and Syria… the goals of which would be difficult to communicate to ordinary Americans. The time may be right for the USA to engage with Iran, which is ready to fight for leadership in the Middle East with the oil monarchies of the Gulf. Such a move could restore the balance of power in the Middle East to the situation that existed prior to the 1979 revolution, when Iran served as a counterbalance to Saudi Arabia.

 26 November 2013

Andrei Ilyashenko

Russia Behind the Headlines


Editor’s Note:

The most important takeaway from this is that the USA vexed Israel. There’s going to be no attack on Iran anytime soon or anytime later. To put it mildly, the minor Gulf States are shitting bricks, whilst the Saudis are apprehensive. If the USA makes nice to Iran… what’ll happen to OPEC and its highway robbery tactics? There’s much more to this than is immediately apparent… and we don’t know the full import of it yet. Is this a step-back from the neocon opium dreams of world hegemony? One can hope that it is…



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