By Sara Rajabova
The normalization of relations between the West and Iran is moving very slowly amid the delicate Geneva deal inked between the representatives of Iran and major world powers and the small signs of opportunities observed afterwards.
This can be concluded from the statements of the two sides, especially the United States and Iran, as Iran says it can restore the 20 percent enrichment of uranium at any time and the U.S. Congress is threatening Iran with new sanctions if one of the sides fails to implement the Geneva deal.
Iran and the Sextet of world powers signed an interim nuclear deal in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 24, 2013. The two sides started to implement the agreement on January 20 and aim to continue negotiations for a final comprehensive deal later this month.
Under the Geneva agreement, the Sextet agreed to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities during a six-month period. It was also agreed that no nuclear-related sanctions would be imposed on Iran within the same timeframe.
The recent statements and actions of both the U.S. and Iran seriously threaten the implementation of the landmark deal and pave the way for expansion of hostile attitudes towards each other.
After European companies rushed to Iran to invest in the country's energy sector, the U.S. officials said Iran was not open for business. The U.S. also said the economic sanctions against Iran will stay in force and the U.S. will only hold off new sanctions and will grant sanctions relief under the Geneva deal.
The U.S. Treasury Department last week blacklisted a number of companies and individuals from several countries for "supporting Iran's nuclear program and active support of terrorism", despite the fact that in late January, the country began to weaken some sanctions against Iran under the Geneva agreement.
Besides, U.S. President Barack Obama said on February 11 that his country and France agreed on the need to enforce the existing sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, Reuters reported.
The rhetoric of the official representatives of the two countries also lessens the chances for the normalization of the ties between them.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani slammed the United States in his speech for celebrating the 35th anniversary of Iranian revolution, which marked the end of Western-backed monarchy under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and the beginning of an Islamic republic.
"Is it possible for the great revolutionary people, is it possible for this nation to accept humiliation by foreign powers or America after 35 years? It seems they have not recognized Iran's great nation. They don't have the right understanding and knowledge of the Iranian people," Iranian media quoted Rouhani as saying.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs Abbas Araqchi said recently that Iran and the U.S. are not friends, and they do not expect the U.S. to put its hostility aside after the Geneva nuclear deal.
Taking all that nuances into account, the question that arises is whether or not Iran and the U.S. are ready for the normalization of relations.
In order for this normalization to happen, it is very important that confidence between the countries be built; but analyzing the recent developments in this regard, one can see that Iran and the U.S. are quite far away from such normalizations.
It seems that after the Geneva deal, the U.S. and Iran are in a waiting position, expecting a failure from the other side and ready to blame each other for the failure of the agreement, something that shows the deep distrust between them.
Both sides have their own reasons for this distrust. Over the years, Iran has been fed up with foreign interferences, consequently overthrowing the Shah's regime in 1979. It was isolated at international levels. Also, with the establishment of a strong Islamic republic, it managed to gather its people firmly around it, so that no foreign interference could break this wall.
Over the past 30 years, Iran has managed to survive in isolation despite the harsh economic sanctions imposed on the country from time to time, which is now causing great hardships for the country's economic development.
On the contrary, Iran has been developing its nuclear program, which is the bone of contention between the country and the West, and has also strengthened the country's defense capabilities by manufacturing drones, missiles, radar systems, etc.
During those years, people's hostility toward the West, especially the U.S., has grown more and more, and although Iran is a multinational state, nothing has broken people's confidence in the government.
There is no doubt that Iran will benefit from the normalization of relations with the West and the lifting of the sanctions against the country.
However, the nuclear dispute is not the only matter of controversy between the Iran and the West, especially the U.S., as it has a lot of disagreements with the U.S. where Palestine, Syria, the situation of the Middle East, and human rights issues are concerned.
Therefore, Iran, ruled by Islamic clerics, is in no hurry to take hasty steps, and is moving carefully under the circumstances.
The United States also has its objections and fears regarding the normalization of the relations. The U.S. still remembers the takeover of the country's embassy in Iran in 1979, and doesn't believe Iran's promises.
Besides, while taking any step regarding the ties with Iran, the U.S. also has to take the country's powerful Jewish lobby, which sensitively follows government's policy regarding this issue, into consideration.
It seems that none of the states are willing to make concessions and take the first step; they are satisfied with the present balance of actions between each other.
Taking into consideration the recent developments regarding Iran-U.S. relations, the chances of a thaw in ties is not high.