The nuclear agreement with Iran is an extraordinary feat of diplomacy.
First and foremost, non-proliferation experts agree that the deal blocks all of the routes to making an atomic bomb. There are provisions for rigorous inspections—so if Iran cheats, the world will know.
Second, it isn’t just Washington to whom the Iranians are accountable. All five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and Germany too, signed alongside the United States. The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will monitor Iranian activities on the great powers’ behalf.
There’s not much good news coming out of the Middle East these days.
But one reason to take heart is the progress of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West. Even as new conflicts sprout up elsewhere, a three-decade standoff between Tehran and Washington could be heading for a breakthrough.
The talks have gone more slowly than many supporters had hoped, with negotiators twice having to extend their deadlines. But that should come as no surprise.
After all, there’s over 35 years of mutual antipathy to overcome, and the technical details are tricky. Plus, Iran’s domestic politics — like our own — are complicated, with hardliners always accusing the pragmatic president of going soft.
Don’t tell anyone, but the United States and Iran are getting closer — perhaps closer than ever — to letting go of 35 years of enmity.
No, Washington and Tehran aren’t going to be BFFs or anything.
But they do share a common interest in rolling back the so-called Islamic State, whose well-armed militants have declared an extremist Sunni caliphate stretching across Syria and Iraq.
The United States is anxious to restore the Iraqi government’s authority in oil-rich Iraq, while Iran is eager to defeat a murderously anti-Shiite militia on its western flank.
For immediate release July 18, 2014 Middle East Report 271 Summer 2014
FUEL AND WATER: THE COMING CRISES
Bassel Burgan is a Jordanian businessman and a leader of the movement to stop the Jordanian government’s plans to generate nuclear power. Jillian Schwedler, an editor of this magazine, conducted this interview with Burgan by e-mail on June 24, 2014.
What, in your view, are the important factors motivating the push for nuclear power in Jordan?
Jordan is facing a power crisis. Resource-poor, the small desert kingdom imports 96.6 percent of its energy, according to government statistics, at a cost equivalent to 20 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 and 2012. More than a quarter of that fuel goes to generating electricity. Future demand is expected to grow rapidly, as Jordan is still in the hump of its demographic transition — in 2012, 37 percent of the population was under the age of 15. Population growth alone will sharpen the hunger for fuel, but so, too, will the need for new industries to provide jobs for the large youth population, and the aspiration to modern, middle-class lifestyles. In addition, Jordan is the constant recipient of refugees from the region’s crisis zones.
The controversy over the Iranian nuclear program is in many ways a product of the US-Iranian conflict. The United States and Iran are in the grip of mutual negative perceptions that, in turn, have been reinforced by the escalatory dynamics of the nuclear dispute. After years of seeming diplomatic deadlock, these dynamics suddenly changed for the better in the autumn of 2013. The positive trends culminated in November, when Iran agreed with the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany, the so-called P5+1, on a confidence-building deal known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPA). Given the record of diplomatic non-achievement, the deal is a historic development.
A six-month diplomatic dance with Iran is underway—each step as dainty as a minuet because any misstep is weighted with danger.
The issue is Iran’s nuclear research program and the UN inspections that are taking place as a result. And while each side has its own agenda, they’re suspicious of the other’s motives.
Everyone is happy with the interim agreement reached with Iran in Geneva on November 23 — that is, everyone who really wants to defuse the tensions over Iran’s nuclear research program.
Few foreign policy issues garner as much interest in the American press as the Iranian nuclear program. As illustrated by last week’s Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing for President Obama’s nominee as secretary of defense, former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, the US government is equally focused on Iran. The committee was more concerned with Hagel’s positions on Iran than his views on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia combined — despite that fact that these countries are all places where the US military is engaged in combat, something not true of Iran.
On any given day, provided her paper of choice still features international coverage, the average American newspaper reader can expect to be treated to one or two articles on attempts to halt advances in Iran’s nuclear program. These articles might cover efforts to levy fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic; they might relay news of discussions among Iran’s primary interlocutors on the nuclear question, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the so-called P5+1), about diplomatic overtures. Or the stories might echo the mounting calls for airstrikes or other military action to delay and disrupt the progress of Iranian nuclear research.
The war of words over Iran’s nuclear program keeps expanding.
It’s now a multi-sided melee pitting Iran against the West and Israel, Israel against the Obama administration, Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, and neo-conservatives like William Kristol against the rest of the US foreign policy establishment.
The rhetoric is more heated, too. President Obama swears that his administration “will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” It’s his clearest indication to date that he would, if he deemed it necessary, order military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Hossein Mousavian has served as visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security from 2009 to the present. Prior to this position, he held numerous positions in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including director-general of its West Europe department and ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997. Ambassador Mousavian was also head of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran during both terms of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005). In this capacity, he served as spokesman of the Iranian nuclear negotiations team from 2003 to 2005.
Goodness! Look at this marxisant rubbish:
At the risk of stating the obvious, there are eerie and multiplying parallels between the long lead-up to the 2003 Iraq war and what passes for debate on what to do about the Iranian nuclear research program.
First the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist happened on a slow news day (Romney wins New Hampshire — zzzz), prompting many major American outlets to give it prominent coverage. The LA Times editorial board was not pleased by the killing, which seemed oddly coincident with the clear US-European-Israeli-Saudi campaign to turn the screws on Iran. Columnist David Ignatius, not known for skepticism of official sources, said on the radio that governments (in which category he tacitly included the US) whack people and disavow it all the time.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s foreign minister and former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is not usually a sarcastic man. But he became one in early November following several days of leaks about the negative content of a pending IAEA report on Iran. “Marg yek bar, shivan yek bar,” he said, using an age-old Persian expression. Literally, the phrase means “You die once, you are mourned once,” but here it might be translated, “Get it over with.”