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First reactions to the Iran nuclear deal

[last update: 15/01/2014] Since the signing of the 24 November interim agreement between Iran and the major world powers in the E3+3 (also commonly referred to as the P5+1) on the country’s nuclear programme, analysts and commentators have been busy discussing the merits of the deal and its implications. Supporters of the deal have generally either lauded the agreement itself, or argued that it presents a far better option than the alternative – continued escalation and possible military action. Critics have argued that the agreement is a blow to the much-needed UN Security Council restrictions on the Iranian programme and to the international sanctions coalition which helps enforce them.

First reactions to the Iran nuclear deal

© European External Action Service

Analysts are not the only ones to disagree on how to interpret the deal. After signing the deal it quickly became clear that the US and Iran also have their disagreements, in particular on what the deal means for Iran’s claimed “right to enrich”, as well as on the exact nature of the required freeze of activities at the Arak nuclear site. Later, disagreement on how far Iran is allowed to go in experimenting with new centrifuges for uranium enrichment under the research and development provision of the agreement emerged.

A common theme in the analyst’s predictions for the future is that a final solution will be much harder to achieve than the interim deal. This is also due to the fact that the regional implications of the agreement might include providing Iran with geopolitical benefits at the expense of important regional powers (and Western allies) such as Israel and Saudi Arabia – making the latter possible spoilers.

Other possible spoilers include Iran-hardliners in the US Congress, who may seek to impose further sanctions against Iran. Legislation to that effect was introduced in the US Senate by late 2013 and is due to be debated when Congress reconvenes in January 2014. Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament is considering a retaliatory bill obliging the government to enrich uranium to 60% “if the sanctions are tightened and Iran’s nuclear rights are ignored”.

The debate over the nature, causes, and implications of the Geneva deal is likely to continue in 2014. The exact nature of the implementation of the interim deal has yet to be agreed on and is being discussed in technical talks between the parties (20 January 2014 has been considered a provisional date for implementation). According to the interim agreement, the E3+3 and Iran are committed to negotiate a final solution within one year from signing the document.

On the diplomatic side, some credit EU HR/VP Ashton with being the diplomat on the E3+3 side most responsible for facilitating the breakthrough, while others prefer to credit direct backdoor negotiations between the US and Iran in preceding months.

While supporting efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, the European Parliament has called on the EU to adopt a broader strategy towards Iran which addresses the country’s regional role and encourages more cooperation on counter-terrorism, fighting drug trade, and energy security. The EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs is preparing a recommendation for the European External Action Service, the Council and the Commission expected to be adopted during the February 2014 plenary session.

Iranian and EU negotiators representing the so-called P5+1 group world powers, have reached an agreement, during talks in Geneva on 9-10 January 2014, on technical details underpinning the implementation modalities of the deal signed with Iran in November. Two days of talks in Geneva between negotiators “made very good progress on all the pertinent issues,” as a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief, told the press, allowing Baronness Ashton to conclude that the “the foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth implementation of the Joint Plan of Action over the six-­month period have been laid”

International framework

Joint Plan of Action / EEAS, 24 November 2013

Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program / White House Fact Sheet, 23 November 2013. [NOTE: the US ‘fact sheet’ has been rejected as a “one-sided interpretation of the agreed text” by the Iranian Foreign Ministry].

Official statements

Updates

Update on P5+1 Negotiations With Iran / U.S. Secretary of State, January 12, 2014

Catherine Ashton on implementation of the Geneva Joint Plan of Action , European External Action Service, 12/01/2014

Parties to the talks

Joint Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Iran Foreign Minister Zarif / European External Actions Service, 24 November 2013

Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program / White House, Office of the Press Secretary, 23 November 2013

Accord intérimaire Iran / statement by French president François Hollande, Présidence de la République française, 24 November 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron comments on international agreement with Iran / UK Prime Minister’s Office, 24 November 2013

Iran: agreement in nuclear talks / remarks by German FM Guido Westerwelle, 24 November 2013

Statement by Vladimir Putin following the conclusion of talks on the Iranian nuclear programme on November 24, 2013 / Russian Presidential Executive Office, 24 November 2013

Wang Yi: First Step towards the Settlement of the Iranian Nuclear Issue / statement by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People’s Republic of China, 24 November 2013

Third parties

Excerpts from PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting / Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, 24 November 2013

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks in the Knesset Regarding the Geneva Agreement / Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, 25 November 2013

Statement by the Saudi Arabian cabinet / as quoted by al-Jazeera, 25 November 2013

Syria government welcomes Iran nuclear deal (news article) / unnamed Foreign Ministry official, quoted by the Associated Press, 24 November 2013

Background

Iran at a crossroads: What will follow the nuclear deal? / DG EXPO, December 2013
“The European Parliament (EP) supports the European Union’s commitment to a diplomatic solution to the nuclear programme. Yet the EP has also called on the Union to devise a broader strategy that goes beyond the nuclear issue and addresses Iran’s regional role. Areas of common interest and concern include Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, a common security framework in the Gulf, counter-terrorism, drug trade and energy security. The EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs is preparing a recommendation for the European External Action Service, the Council and the Commission on the EU’s strategy on Iran. The recommendation is expected to be adopted by the plenary in February 2014.”

Interim Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program, Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr. Congressional Research Service, December 11, 2013.
This 24 pages CRS report resumes and details the terms of the agreement and reflections and implications of the deal at the regional and international level. It also reviews the positions of critics and supporters of the deal.

Assessing the First-Phase Deal to Guard Against a Nuclear-Armed Iran / The Arms Control Association, 2 December 2013
The Arms Control Association lays out how the Geneva deal constrains Iran’s enrichment program, what it means for non-proliferation, and discusses the prospects for the next phase of negotiations.

Third time lucky in Geneva / Ellie Geranmayeh, European Council on Foreign Relations, 25 November 2013
Lays out the immediate implications of the Geneva deal and discusses some of the major obstacles going forward.

Iran nuclear agreement: Q&A / Julian Borger, The Guardian, 24 November 2013
This article provides background on the Iranian nuclear programme and explains how the Geneva deal restricts it.

The IAEA after the Iran Deal / Mark Hibbs, 3 December 2013
Lays out what the Geneva agreement mean for the IAEA’s work in Iran and argues that, “most of the IAEA activities called for by the Joint Plan of Action appear to be fully consistent with things the IAEA is doing now, including in Iran”. The work could be done with only “a few more” personnel on the ground than is currently the case.

Explainer: What Iran and world powers agreed in Geneva / Daryl G. Kimball, al-Jazeera America, 26 November 2013
This article lays out the content of the interim deal and points to the fact that, “the two sides did not resolve the nature of Iran’s nuclear energy rights, but resolved to negotiate practical limits and further safeguards on Iranian enrichment activities”. Further it argues that, “to secure a ‘final phase’ agreement, the P5+1 will need to further scale back the oil and financial sanctions that are devastating Iran’s economy, which will require action by the European Union states and Congressional approval of revised sanctions legislation. Negotiating an agreement along these lines will be difficult. Implementing those steps will be even harder.”

Iran and the US learned the lessons of failure / Sir Richard Dalton, The Telegraph, 25 November 2013
According to former British ambassador to Iran from 2002-2006, Sir Richard Dalton, the diplomatic breakthrough was partly due to the fact that, “both sides moderated their demands, including by dropping the pursuit of ideal but unattainable aims, such as ending all international sanctions now or, from the other side, suspending all uranium enrichment as a prelude to eliminating it.

Analysis

Friends and Foes of a United States-Iran Nuclear Agreement / Riccardo Alcaro, in: Turkish Policy Quarterly 12, no. 3 (November 29, 2013). p. 9
The author, from the Istituto Affari Internazionali, reviews the positions and the reasons of supporters and opponents of the deal, analysing the adavantages that it could bring about in order to improve cooperation between U.S. and Iran in the regional context.

Supporters of the deal

Still Not Time to Attack Iran: Why the U.S. Shouldn’t Play Chicken with Tehran, Colin H. Kahl, in: Foreign Affairs, January 7, 2014
Colin Kahl argues that leadership changes in Tehran and the diplomatic momentum created by the Geneva interim accord mean that there is a real chance that the Iranian nuclear crisis could finally be resolved peacefully.

Whatever Israel says, it is Iran that’s offering the concessions / Patrick Cockburn, 10 November 2013, The Independent
Patrick Cockburn argues that when Iran offered concessions during the late-2013 nuclear negotiations, it was “being done to establish ‘trust’, but does not leave Iran with many assets to negotiate with in future talks over a long-term solution. The danger from Iran’s point of view is that the West will gobble up concessions made in the name of ‘confidence-building’, but there will be no stage-two negotiations in which Iran might get something back in return. Sanctions will largely stay in place.”

Arms Control Association Hails Breakthrough Deal Negotiated with Iran As “Net Plus for Nonproliferation” / Arms Control Association, 24 November 2013
According to this statement, “experts with the independent Arms Control Association called the agreement between the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, plus Germany) and Iran a ‘historic breakthrough’ in the decade-old impasse over Iran’s nuclear program and a ‘net plus for nuclear nonproliferation and international security.'”

Iran nuclear deal will make the world a safer place / Hans Blix, The Guardian, 27 November 2013
Former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix endorses the deal in Geneva and argues that, “the US is now enabled, as it was in the case of Syria, to move away from the role of self-appointed global policeman that neither President Obama, the US public nor the world is comfortable with. Instead, responsibility is shared with all other permanent members of the UN security council, Germany and the EU, thus facilitating action that will need to be taken within the council and the UN system.

A Convincing First Step on Iran’s Nuclear Program / Robert Einhorn, Brookings, 24 November 2013
Former Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control to the US Secretary of State, Robert Einhorn, argues that, “critics are correct that the deal does not reduce Iran’s nuclear infrastructure or significantly lengthen Iran’s nuclear breakout timeline. [However, those] are goals that must be achieved in a comprehensive, final agreement. What the initial deal does is create a solid foundation for the very difficult negotiations ahead, and it leaves intact the tough sanctions needed as leverage to get Iran to accept a sound final agreement that meets our requirements”.

The surprisingly good Geneva deal / Mark Fitzpatrick, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 25 November 2013
Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Security Studies argues that, “the Geneva agreement is a good deal because Iran’s capabilities in every part of the nuclear programme of concern are capped, with strong verification measures.” Further, “most of the compromises undertaken at Geneva were made by the Iranian negotiators” while the sanctions relief given in return, “is real, but relatively minor”.

Why the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Is a Good Deal / James M. Acton, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 26 November 2013
This article argues that contrary to what the critics claim, “the relevant comparison is not between the Geneva deal and a perfect deal, but between this deal and no deal. Compared to no deal, the Geneva agreement advances the security of the United States and its allies and friends, including Israel.

The Best Deal with Iran That We Can Get / Anthony H. Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 24, 2013
This analysis argues that despite all the risks going forward, “as first steps go […] the agreement the P5+1 reached in Geneva offers what is almost certainly the best possible agreement the U.S. and its allies could negotiate, it offers Iran a new path to progress and development, and it offers the region new hope that it can avoid new conflicts and the risk of a massive arms race.”

To reach Iran deal, secret diplomacy that worked / David Ignatius, Washington Post, 25 November 2013
This Washington Post op-ed argues that, “the definition of a good agreement is one that each side can sell to its public, and that’s the case here.” The interim agreement seems, “at the outer edge of what was possible in terms of freezing the Iranian nuclear program and providing daily inspections to check against any trickery.” But at the same time, “it’s a good deal for Iran”. In particular, “the language is just fuzzy enough that the United States can claim it hasn’t endorsed a ‘right to enrich’ [but the] enrichment right has prospectively been conceded; it will never be rescinded, nor will it ever again form the basis for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Iran.”

Unlocking the Middle East / The Economist, 30 November 2013
The Economist argues that it is a, “fantasy […] to imagine that more sanctions or harsher negotiations could have produced a deal that was much better than this one. The alternative was not for Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, but for America to abandon diplomacy—and prepare for an assault.”

Our Last, Best Chance / Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy, 25 November 2013
This article argues that the restrictions now put on the Iranian nuclear programme are, “more than could have been hoped for”, and indeed that, “the Iranians gave the West pretty much everything one might have asked for”. Still, “the Geneva agreement will ultimately be judged on whether the parties can agree to something more comprehensive before it’s all said and done”.

For now, the Iran deal is the best outcome for everyone / Dina Esfandiary, The National, 24 November 2013
Dina Esfandiary of the International Institute for Security Studies argues that, “the Iranian nuclear deal is the best result anyone in the region could have reasonably aimed for.” The use of military power had too low a likelihood of success, meaning that, “the only realistic way to stop the programme is for the Iranians to choose to do it themselves”. The domestic Iranian political atmosphere will also improve as the deal, “will help strengthen President Hassan Rouhani. He is the only moderate president with any real power Iran has had since the 1979 revolution, and this deal will give him more. It is exactly the kind of win he can turn into political capital to pursue his more moderate objectives both at home and abroad.”

The Iran deal does limited things for a limited time / Richard Hass, Financial Times, 24 November 2013
Another optimistic assessment, this article argues that, “the interim nuclear accord between Iran and the six world powers is a significant accomplishment by any measure.” While it ” does limited things for a limited time, no more and no less”, that is not proper grounds for criticism: “the measure of any diplomatic agreement cannot be the possible versus the ideal but rather the possible versus the realistic alternatives, in this case either living with an Iranian nuclear weapons capability that would lead others in the already unstable Middle East to follow suit or launching a preventive military strike without knowing in advance what it would accomplish or set in motion.”

Critics of the deal

Still Time to Attack Iran : The Illusion of a Comprehensive Nuclear Deal, Matthew Kroenig, in: Foreign Affairs, January 7, 2014
The author of this article is very much pessimistic as to whether the negotiating partners have substantially improved the chances that the nuclear problem will be resolved diplomatically. He argues that while Iran could reach a nuclear weapons capability in two or three months, the deal – that allows limited enrichment would push that timeline back to about six months.

Conflicting Expectations from the Geneva Document between the P5+1 and Iran, Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, December 11, 2013.
A skeptic analysis from this Israeli think tank on the terms of teh agreement which are compared with statements and declarations from negotiators in the aftermath of the deal.

The Hidden Cost of the Iranian Nuclear Deal / Michael Doran, Brookings, 24 November 2013
Sounding a pessimistic note, this analysis speculates that the deal is a, “deceptively pleasant way station on the long and bloody road that is the American retreat from the Middle East.” The costs of the agreement are many: “we shredded the six United Nations Security Council resolutions that ordered the Islamic Republic to abandon all enrichment and reprocessing activities. We exposed fractures in the coalition against Iran. And we started building a global economic lobby that is dedicated to eroding the sanctions that we have generated through a decade of hard, very hard, diplomatic work. […]But a hidden cost that is more easily verified is the free hand that the United States is now giving to Iran throughout the region.

Iran nuclear deal: The mystery solved / Michael Doran and James K. Glassman / American Enterprise Institute, 26 November 2013
This article argues that the deal reached in Geneva is unsatisfactory and warns that the Obama administration’s motive for nevertheless accepting it might have been to achieve, “a strategic partnership with Iran because the administration sees that country as the only island of stability in a sea of chaos and violence.” However, “a strategic partnership with Iran […] represents the sacrifice of traditional allies and principles for a dream of stability that won’t be realized.

A Dangerous, Wrongheaded Deal / Ted Cruz, Foreign Policy, 25 November 2013
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) claims that, “substantive sanctions relief has been exchanged for vague promises that the growth of [Iran’s] nuclear program will be curbed.” He complains that, “the mullahs in Tehran can now laugh all the way to the bank while they spend the time and money they have gained in Geneva pursuing nuclear capability”.

Prospects for the next steps

A Year of Too-Great Expectations for Iran / Mark Hibbs, 30 December 2013, Carnegie Endowment
Mark Hibbs warns that “unrealistic expectations about the Iran deal need to be revised downward.” In particular, while intended to build building confidence the interim agreement, “left open how Iran, the powers, and the IAEA would resolve two critical matters: unanswered questions about sensitive and potentially embarrassing past and possibly recent Iranian nuclear activities, and unfulfilled demands by the UN Security Council that Iran suspend its uranium-enrichment program”. If these issues are not worked out, negotiations on the next step may fail.

The Danger of New Iran Sanctions / Colin H. Kahl, 31 December 2013, The National Interest
Former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Colin Kahl warns against Congressional efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran while negotiations are on-going. He suggests that, “A careful look at Iranian actions over the past decade suggests that economic pressure has sometimes been effective, but only when it aligns with particular Iranian political dynamics and policy preferences. And once domestic Iranian politics are factored in, the lesson for today’s sanctions debate is clear: the threat of additional sanctions, at this critical juncture, could derail negotiations toward a peaceful solution.”

The wrong path to peace with Iran / Trita Parsi & Reza Marashi, December 31, 2013, CNN
The President and the Research Director of the National Iranian American Council argue that new Congressional sanctions would violate the 2013 Geneva agreement. However, “the problem with new sanctions legislation goes beyond the fact that it will kill the diplomatic process”. In particular, it would empower Iran’s hardliners and threaten the influence of moderates, such as new president Rouhani and FM Zarif, who helped bring about the recent diplomatic breakthrough.

From Interim to Final Status: Iran, the E3+3, and the Road from Geneva / Shashank Joshi, RUSI, December 6, 2013
The author of this article assesses the temporary stop to Iran’s nuclear programme analysing the different phases through which the agreeement will have to be implemented, stressing possible hurdles and advantages and concluding that the details of the endgame remain shrouded in uncertainty.

After the First-Phase Deal With Iran / Daryl G. Kimball, The Arms Control Association, 3 December 2013

Discusses what demands are likely to be made on Iran in the final phase of negotiations, including a reduction of overall enrichment capacity, a conversion of the Arak site to make it less of a proliferation risk, and even more enhanced IAEA inspections than is currently the case.

What’s next for the nuclear negotiations? / Gary Samore, Iran Matters, 26 November 2013
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction from 2009-13, Gary Samore, argues that in the next phase of negotiations, “the P5+1 will not be in a position to dictate terms to Iran. Just as the P5+1 can threaten to re-impose and increase sanctions in the absence of sufficient nuclear concessions, Iran can threaten to restart and expand its nuclear program if the P5+1 demand too much or offer too little.”

Making the Iran Nuclear Deal Work / Patrick Clawson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 25 November 2013
This analysis warns that if the Geneva agreement falls apart, “a grave crisis would ensue.” While, “the failure of the agreement could strengthen Iranian suspicions of the West”, it is also the case that, “were Iran to ultimately thwart the restrictions it has now accepted, such a move would feed concerns in the West and in the region — especially the Gulf monarchies and Israel — that Iran was preparing to “break out,” or take the last steps before a dash to nuclear weapons capability.”

The Road from Geneva / Shashank Joshi, Foreign Policy, 26 November 2013
This article suggests that even in the case of a “comprehensive solution”, the time period required before the process set out in the interim agreement is concluded might run to decades. Further, “once the comprehensive agreement expires — whether it lasts for years or decades — there will then be further haggling. The agreement says Iran ‘will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT.’ Iran is sure to argue that this means the removal of all limits, whereas Western powers will point out that many NPT members voluntarily accept restrictions on their programs, and that Iran should do so, too.”

Iran — the next stage / David Ignatius, Washington Post, 28 November 2013
In a follow-up to his 25 November op-ed (see above), David Ignatius warms that, “the truly hard part of these negotiations is just beginning.” The US and its allies will strengthen their position and, “seek to dismantle parts of the Iranian program, rather than simply freeze them.” While the interim agreement was partly negotiated in secret, “this one will have to be negotiated in the diplomatic equivalent of a circus ring, with hoots and catcalls from bystanders.”

Confidence Enrichment / Kenneth Pollack, Foreign Affairs, 25 November 2013
This analysis argues that while, “it is difficult to judge the nuclear agreement forged last weekend in Geneva as anything other than a good deal”, the interim deal is, “only important to the extent it helps to produce [an] ultimate, comprehensive agreement. Fortunately, the deal has real value as a confidence-building measure” and the element of trust is exactly what has been missing in the past several decades of US-Iran relations.

Analysis: Nuclear deal faces hard-line test / Brian Murphy, Associated Press, 26 November 2013
This AP analysis argues that, “Iran’s ability to fulfil its part of the six-month bargain […] will depend largely on the [Iranian Revolutionary] Guard and its network.” The importance of the Guards go far beyond the nuclear issue and, “what may be a harder point of persuasion is beyond the accord. The Revolutionary Guard must be comfortable that the deal isn’t a prelude to broader diplomatic overtures with Washington that could undermine its standing and reach” in the region.

After Geneva, how will the US and Iran reach a final deal? / al-Jazeera America, 27 November 2013
Al-Jazeera asks seven different Iran-analysts to weigh in on the prospects for a lasting diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue.

Regional implications

Iran and the West: Beyond the Nuclear Deal / Eric Wheeler and Richard Youngs, FRIDE, December 5, 2013
The authors look at the hopes that the interim deal on Iran’s nuclear programme raise as to the improvement in Iran’s relations both with the West and with other powers in the Middle East and Asia. Weighing expectations realistically, the suggest that reaching the goal of a more open Iran, cooperating in a less fractious Middle East, will require a comprehensive and fully committed engagement from the international community.

Iran’s preliminary agreement with P5+1 will have widespread regional implications / IHS Global Insight, 25 November 2013
IHS analyses the likely regional implication of the Geneva deal, describing Saudi Arabia as “probably the biggest loser from the preliminary agreement”, and predicting that the kingdom will react by increasing funding for Sunni militant groups in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. It also predicts an increase of Israeli strikes against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon and Syria.

The Iran Nuclear Accord: First Step in a Long Journey / International Crisis Group, November 25, 2013
This ICG analysis argues that at the most fundamental level, the Iran nuclear issue is not a “technical, arms control issue so much as it is a geopolitical, strategic one, namely Iran’s role and status in the region. […] Ultimately, a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the West will be sustainable only if accompanied by simultaneous advances on the broader, strategic front, and notably by resolution of the various conflicts that threaten the Middle East.”

Next Steps for the U.S.-Iran Deal / Stratfor Global Intelligence, 25 November 2013
Despite the difficulty of coming to a long-term agreement, this analysis argues that, “the normalization process is unlikely to derail. Both sides need it. The real stakes are the balance of power in the Middle East. Iran is far more concerned with enhancing its geopolitical prowess through conventional means. Meanwhile, the United States wants to leverage relations with Iran in order to better manage the region in an age of turmoil.” The US will use an improvement of relations with Iran to balance other regional powers — in particular, “a rehabilitated Iran, along with its Shiite radical agenda, serves as a counter to the growing bandwidth of Sunni radicalism”.

Good News, But an Alliance with Iran is Premature / Karim Sadjadpour, New York Times, 26 November 2013
This article argues that while a new American alliance with Iran is not imminent, in the longer term, “U.S.-Iran enmity is not indefinite […]. Indeed, Iran is one of the few countries in the Middle East where America’s strategic interests and democratic values align, rather than clash”.

To Win Arab Trust on Iran, Washington Should Broaden Scope of Final Deal / Shadi Hamid, Brookings, 24 November 2013
Argues that the next step in negotiations needs to take on a broader scope. Regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, “will judge the interim deal on the basis of whether it strengthens Iran’s regional position — which it almost certainly will.” Further, while the interim agreement understandably said nothing about the crisis in Syria (where Iran supports the Assad regime), “any final, comprehensive deal should, in fact, be comprehensive. That means addressing Iran as well as Hezbollah’s crucial support for the Assad regime.”

The role of the EU

Iran success of EU’s Ashton keeps Brussels in the game / Justyna Pawlak, Reuters, 27 November 2013
This article argues that for EU HR/VP Ashton, the diplomatic breakthrough in Geneva, “capped a turnaround in her career as Europe’s top diplomat. Insiders say Ashton, a one-time second-tier British politician whose surprise elevation to European Union foreign policy chief in 2009 was greeted with condescension, managed to exceed expectations as shepherd of the six global powers that agreed with Iran on Sunday to curb its nuclear program.”

Iran nuclear talks: Lady Ashton’s Geneva triumph takes centre stage / Ian Traynor, The Guardian, 24 November 2013
This article argues that while the recent diplomatic breakthrough was partly due to the change of governments in Iran and the Obama administration’s renewed willingness to engage, “Ashton’s dogged nurturing of years of on-off negotiations, what is described in Brussels as her ’emotional intelligence’ in steering and mediating the highly complex talks, paid off handsomely.”

Assessing the European Union’s Sanctions Policy: Iran as a Case Study / Dina Esfandiary, December 2013, EU Non-Proliferation Consortium
This study argues that the EU is in a better position than the US to offer meaningful sanctions relief to Iran in order to secure a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue because lifting US sanctions will require Congressional approval. However, “it is useless for the EU to suspend measures that are covered by extraterritorial US sanctions. Given that it is unlikely (if not impossible) for the EU to break from the USA, it would have to work with the US Government to receive tacit US approval for any sanctions relief and determine which measures should be targeted.”

Implications on Iran Domestic policy

A Moderate Proposal / Daniel Brumberg, 6 January 2014, Foreign Policy
Warning about the effect of new sanctions while negotiations are on-going – on both the diplomatic process and domestic Iranian politics – this analysis states: “New sanctions will not only destroy the pragmatists’ credibility – it will decimate their wider bid to advance a new domestic reform project.”

Extending Hands & Unclenching Fists / National Iranian American Council, December 2013
The National Iranian American Council proposes that to counter the narrative of Iranian hard-liners that the nuclear issue proves the West to be opposed to Iran’s scientific progress, cooperation on civilian scientific projects should be encouraged.

Others

Obama needs to take on the Israel lobby over Iran / Gideon Rachman, 25 November 2013
This article discusses the complications involved in the Obama administration’s task of convincing the Israeli government and its US allies of the merits of the deal. At the centre of this process will be a fundamental disagreement: The Israelis want the complete dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear programme. The Americans and their negotiating partners want to freeze it in the first instance – and also recognise that any final deal will have to leave Iran with some nuclear capacity.”

The Real Nuclear Option / Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy, 25 November 2013
This article argues that there is a real possibility that Israel would attack Iran despite the diplomatic breakthrough in Geneva, “should the IAEA’s outstanding questions about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program go unaddressed, or access to sensitive sites remain restricted”.

Let’s Not Celebrate This Iran Deal…Yet / Aaron David Miller, Politico Magazine, 23 November
Pointing to president Obama’s foreign policy approach to explain the deal, this article suggests that, “If there’s an Obama Doctrine, it’s this: Get America out of costly wars, not into new ones, and make diplomacy the default setting, not military force. […] The president has three preferred nos when it comes to Iran: no Israeli military strike, no U.S. strike and no Iranian nuke on his watch. This trio can only be accomplished through creating a process of negotiation that prevents Israel from striking and makes it unnecessary for Washington to do so.”

Devil in the Details; Angel in the “Big Picture” / Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog, 25 November
Former US ambassador to NATO and member of the National Security Council during the Carter administration, Robert E. Hunter, provides an optimistic assessment of the prospects for the US improving relations with Iran: “what has happened in the last two months is that Iran is now back ‘in play’ in the region and is beginning the march toward resuming a role in the international community”.

In Iran, human rights cannot be sacrificed for a nuclear deal / Shirin Ebadi and Payam Akhavan, The Washington Post, 29 November 2013
2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Shirin Ebadi, and founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center Payam Akhavan argue that, “The Geneva talks should be considered as complementary halves, with the nuclear negotiations in one location and […] human rights deliberations in another. Both halves are necessary for a complete solution”.

About Martin E. Petersen

European Parliament Research Service

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