Provocations of Recent Nuclear Peace Talks

Endorsement to enrich uranium has been acquiesced to Iran, indeed every nation, by the U.S. and thereby resonating hopes in some and igniting furies in others.  In Geneva as P5 1 and Iran were finalizing the most recent agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli Foreign Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Moscow campaigning Israel’s ever-relentless opposition to Iran, and in another part of the world rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait met to discuss their alarms and interests.  Hours later, after the agreement in Geneva was finalized, President Obama announced that, “Iran, like any other nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear power.” 

 Prior to this agreement the U.S. maintained that Iran must cease all uranium enrichment.  In support of this position through the last decade financially burdensome sanctions have been applied to Iran.  This recent agreement is for six months and allows Iran some sanction relief.  Many Iranians laud this agreement as a step toward improving human rights, domestic policy and the movement toward democracy. 

 Some of the conditions of this six month interim agreement are that Iran convert its stockpile of enriched uranium into oxide form, suspend work on its heavy-water reactor in Arak, and be much more open and inviting with international nuclear inspectors.

 In addition to limited sanctions relief this interim agreement allows Iran to enrich uranium to 5 percent with existing centrifuges.  After this deal was made Netanyahu strongly pointed out that it is a complete reversal to all previous policy.

 In looking forward to the next round of meetings, European Union’s Catherine Ashton expressed appreciation of agreeing on an additional opportunity to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement.  Netanyahu said, “We believe it is possible to reach a better agreement, but it requires us to be consistent and persistent.”

 Iran gets relief from sanctions for six months and they meanwhile will exercise their right to enrich, so they seemingly must be thrilled with this agreement.  Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that the agreement has a “clear reference that enrichment will continue.”  Endorsement of Iran’s tenacious position that it has a right to enrich uranium will very much color the political war fields.  Israel, widely believed to have nuclear capabilities, has become more contentious and defensive than ever.  In response to this interim deal Shimom Peres, Israel’s president, stated, “If the diplomatic path fails, the nuclear option will be prevented by other means.  The alternative is far worse.”  President Obama said, “While today’s deal is just a first step, it achieves a great deal.”  Saudi Arabian Chairman Abdullah al-Askar said, “This will open wide the door to weaponization.”  Al-Asker stated that Saudi Arabia may go ahead and get nuclear weapons, and he inferred that other possibly like-minded countries such as Egypt, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, may also work toward nuclear programs.  Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry Naftali Bennett said, “If in five years, a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning.” 

 When nuclear meetings reconvene perhaps Iran will be able to negotiate the lifting of significantly more sanctions, as well as gain endorsements for continued building and implementation of their nuclear infrastructure.  Or, maybe P5 1 will be able to hold their positions and not capitulate without lasting and meaningful counter consents from Iran.  While perhaps endorsing the right to enrich for all nations got this recent agreement signed, it does not give the watching world substantial, if any, confidence in the P5 1’s abilities to successfully negotiate a future position that will promote and support peace.   In fact, it does the opposite, as it is directly contrary to their prior stated goals.  For some nations the recent agreement has highlighted their right and need for weapons of mass destruction.  Six months from now when nuclear talks reconvene the world will gain additional understandings on how a nuclear free-for-all may, or not, evolve.

 Joan Brown ~ contributor