Thursday, April 9, 2015

Assessing the Agreement with Iran « LobeLog

Assessing the Agreement with Iran « LobeLog:
by Charles Naas [Deputy Ambassador and Charge d'Affairs in Tehran during the initial stages of Iran's revolution. Preceding that he was Director of Iranian Affairs and served also in Pakistan, India, Turkey, Afghanistan, as the ME advisor at the US's UN delegation, and retired from The Policy Planning Staff.]
 "The spate of immediate reactions to the nuclear agreement between Iran and the six negotiators (the US, France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and China) has eased somewhat. We can now sit back calmly and assess the nuclear agreement.

 The first conclusion is that President Obama has not been hyperbolic in his press interviews: this is a big deal and potentially a game changer in the Middle East political cauldron. Against substantial odds Obama has legitimized his dictum that “the US will engage but we will preserve our capabilities.” Such a phrase may not resonate within the majority political classes on the Hill—like Reagan’s “trust but verify.” But in view of the opposition by the modern-day “know nothings” in Congress, it is a low-key reminder that intelligence and patience together with diplomacy can work.

 When Obama was initially elected, he could do little with respect to India, Pakistan, and North Korea, each of which already had a number of nuclear weapons. Israel and the United States viewed Iran and its advanced nuclear complex, meanwhile, as another potential nuclear power, a threat to Israeli security, and a possible perpetrator of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Obama, like past presidents, is committed to Israeli security, but he has been also dedicated, as he said, to resolving old rivalries and enmities if possible. (Cuba in the South American context is a second example of his intention to clear up past legacies.) Why should reasonable observers favor the agreement, as it appears a majority of Americans have done? Iran has agreed to a host of limits on its nuclear program, but the key from the Western participants’ point of view is the stringent inspection regime that the International Atomic Energy Agency will implement from the mines through every stage of the enrichment process. The inspectors are highly likely to pick up any changes in that process, particularly any effort to cheat on the terms of the agreement. Iran has protested that it has had no intention or ambition to become a nuclear power, and the long negotiation appears to bear out that claim."

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