Friday, December 2, 2022

A dramatic turnaround beyond a nuclear deal (PART TWO)

Donya-e Eqtesad daily has said in an opinion piece that the tentative nuclear agreement has come with some consequences which should be thoroughly thought through by parties involved.

“Nothing has happened yet” is apparently the only similarity between the official stance of high-ranking Iranian and US leaders following the release of a joint statement by Iran and P5+1 in Lausanne [in early April]. The shared stance of the two sides is a requirement of diplomatic shrewdness to keep the doors to bargaining open in the months ahead and avoid triggering backlash at home.

Donya-e Eqtesad daily on April 15 published an opinion piece by Dr. Mohammad-Mahdi Mojahedi, a professor of Comparative Political Philosophy in Germany, about the tentative nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 and its consequences. The following is Part Two of the translation of the piece:

A dramatic turn in regional policies of the US and Western governments is a scenario which would answer: 1) Why did the US president start to have secret correspondence with senior Iranian leaders and why did secret [US-Iran] talks open in Oman one year before the 2013 presidential elections [in Iran]? 2) Why is the US willing to pay a heavy price – irking Israel and [its] regional allies – for advancing talks with Iran? 3) Why is the US administration ready to pay a dear price for its confrontation with Congress? 4) And why are senior officials of the Islamic Republic ready to show strategic far-sightedness and accept nuclear restrictions in case the US proves – during the talks – its resolve to take a dramatic turn?

This dramatic turn has two basic parts: One is the preparedness of the US and other world powers to gradually turn their backs on trouble-making Arab partners which are believed to be taken hostage by their own political structure and to be caught in domestic and regional crises as part of a self-destructive and irreversible trend. The signs of such abandonment have started to surface.

Another is the preparedness [of the US and other world powers] to gradually acknowledge and recognize the political status and strategic position of the Islamic Republic of Iran as the anchor of regional stability.

De-escalation of ties between Iran and world powers is the very first prerequisite to make this dramatic turn become a reality. Such détente – after almost four decades of tenuous ties with post-Islamic Revolution Iran and the accumulated distrust since the 1953 Iranian coup [also known as the 28 Mordad coup, which overthrew the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh] – is not only a tough thing to do, but it is costly too, a price all beneficiaries are expected to pay their own share of.

The internal coordination and integrity among Iran’s senior political leaders has been in place for long – even before the nuclear dispute – to break the mental and objective deadlocks which are associated with strategic cooperation with world powers; Iran’s cooperation with the US-led coalition in Afghanistan against the Taliban is just an example.

Another proof for such dogged determination and integrated resolution is the absolute trust and full authority the Iranian nuclear negotiating team has earned to settle the nuclear dispute during talks with big powers.

It is neither cost-effective nor necessary to possess the full nuclear fuel cycle, not only for Iran but also for most of the countries which have used nuclear energy for decades. That’s why almost 20, out of 30, countries which employ nuclear energy have no full nuclear fuel cycle and import the nuclear energy, citing environmental and economic concerns. Besides, countries such as Denmark, Italy, Austria, Germany, Japan and Australia have for long begun to phase out nuclear energy from their energy regimes. This comes as other countries are gradually following the lead of these nations.

Investment in renewable energies (they are still costly though) will be more economical and safer for many countries in the long run. As far as the strategic values and deterrence go, a nuclear program finds no room – actual or potential – in the defensive doctrine of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it is far from reasonable to be given a place in that doctrine. What is certain is the incontestability of the scientific and research-related value of a nuclear program, a value which will remain intact according to the framework envisioned in the Swiss statement.

Slowing down the full nuclear fuel cycle is a highly reasonable and low price for a country like Iran to pay in exchange for the big achievement it has gained in [its] regional and global relations: being upgraded from a threat to a partner in cooperation.

This is a stable and firmly-established position in which security threats are eliminated to a large extent and the Islamic Republic is recognized as the undisputable strategic partner of big powers in the region whose prospect for the coming three decades is gloomy because of widespread political uncertainty, organized violence, as well as shortages of water, energy and food resources.

“Nothing has happened yet”, but “the consequences” of what has happened between the Islamic Republic and the US over the past three years have been so big in the framework of strategic developments that veteran US strategists like 93-year-old Henry Kissinger and George [Pratt] Shultz, 95, sit down for a debate against [Zbigniew] Brzezinski, 88, to discuss the consequences of an agreement with Iran. They were not discussing the nuclear agreement but the long-term prospect of the US foreign policy and the future roadmap of the Middle East.

This is an example of heated debates that erupt these days in places where the Middle East is top on the agenda. The fact that these debates widely occur [in different places] substantiates an assessment, by Obama. “It is a once in a lifetime opportunity”.

Obama’s doctrine – which says we should not resort to tough means for what can be done in simple ways – seems to be a diplomatic expression of what the Islamic Republic of Iran and P5+1 jointly expect: that these talks should be held to seize the opportunity which is not to be repeated. This opportunity could pave the way for a dramatic turn in the [US] Middle East policy.

Mohammad-Mahdi Mojahedi is the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) Visiting Professor of Comparative Political Theories, with a focus on Iranian and Islamic studies, human rights and methodology at Leiden University and a Visiting Professor of Political Science at Freie Universitat Berlin.


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