Can the Obama administration refrain from confrontational rhetoric on Iran?

Photo: Can the Obama administration refrain from confrontational rhetoric on Iran? / Iran

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 4

By Saeed Isayev - Trend:

Thus far, the fragile-looking nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group has been respected. The IAEA chief Yukiya Amano recently said the nuclear deal is being implemented as planned, and yet much remains to be done.

Success of the interim, yet historic, nuclear deal that was reached between Iran and P5+1 in November 2013 depends on a range of factors.

Teaching fellow of the Department of Politics and International Studies of SOAS (University of London), Dr. Shirin Shafaie believes that both parties (Iran - P5+1 group) are expected to respect their obligations according the mutually agreed deal and refrain from contradicting the essence of the agreement either with their rhetoric or in action.

"If that's the case, then follow-up meetings will have a good chance of ironing out the details of a permanent and more comprehensive agreement, an agreement that would eventually lead to the normalization of Iran's nuclear file and hopefully even to normalization of relations between Iran and the United States," she told Trend.

"So far Iran has kept its commitments under the interim nuclear deal - a fact that is also confirmed by the US government. Moreover, China, Russia and the three European states (UK, France and Germany) have also taken steps to ensure the long-term success of the recent nuclear deal," Shafaie said.

And yet, she adds, there are certain elements within the US foreign policy circles, most notably those associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), otherwise known as the Israeli lobby, which have a vested interest in the failure of this historic deal with Iran.

"These politicians constantly try to insert influence on the Obama Administration and thus manipulate the organic and non-confrontational development of negotiations between Iran and P5+1," she said.

"Therefore, the question is not whether monthly meetings will be useful for safeguarding and further developing the Interim Deal, but whether the Obama Administration is ready, willing, and most importantly strong enough to refrain from taking contradictory measures and confrontational rhetoric in the critical months ahead," Shafaie added.

Among the "contradictory measures and confrontational rhetoric", Shafaie named a military option on Iran, passing more sanctions while the negotiations are ongoing, urging international companies not to do business in Iran based on the initial sanctions relief and other economic, military, or political measures.

On the other hand, Shafaie, answering the question on how other countries that stand against the nuclear agreement, would react to a possible permanent agreement, said that there will only be one country, namely Israel, who will be extremely unhappy with a permanent mutually acceptable deal between Iran and the P5+1.

"Israel has directly benefitted from the manufactured "Iranian threat" as a rationale for receiving massive military aid from the US and unconditional diplomatic support from France, UK and Germany for its militaristic policies in the region," she said.

"From the perspective of Israeli leaders, any genuine deal between Iran and P5+1 will be construed as a threat to the significance of Israel's "special relationship" with the West," she said. "Thus we could expect a sabotage campaign emanating from Israel should a permanent agreement be reached between Iran and the West in the coming months."

Iran and the P5+1 held meetings in Vienna in February to work on a comprehensive deal.

Iran and the P5+1 (Russia, China, France, Germany, UK and the US) signed an interim deal on Iran's nuclear energy program in Geneva on November 24, 2013. The deal took effect on January 20.

Under the agreement, six major powers agreed to give Iran access to its $4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas, if the country fulfills the deal's terms, which offer sanctions relief in exchange for steps on curbing the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran and P5+1 aim to continue their talks to reach a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Islamic Republic's nuclear energy program. The next round of negotiations will begin with a meeting between technical experts from the P5+1 and Iran on March 5.

Shafaie went on to add that some of the oil-exporting/arms-importing monarchies of the Persian Gulf have also benefited from the "Iranian nuclear scare" and are not very enthusiastic about a possible rapprochement between Iran and the US.

"However, they are also concerned with the internal security of their regimes and realize that a more regionally interconnected and independent security system (in the Persian Gulf) would be more beneficial to them in the long-term as opposed to excessive military and political dependency on the US and increasing proximity of shared interests with Israel," she said.

"The recent popular revolts against non-representative governments in a number of Arab states suggest that mere size of regimes' military and their political alliance with the US is not enough to save them from being overthrown by their people."

As for the rest of the world, Shafaie said that indeed, there are regional economic rivals and peer competitors who may not be very enthusiastic about the return of a powerful Iran with its very large natural and human resources to the realm of global trade.

"In the long-term, virtually all countries will benefit from more stability and prospects of long-term peace and security in the Middle East. And normalization of Iran's relations with the US would be an indispensable element of such promising future," she said.

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