The interim deal between Iran and P5+1 can be defined as a major breakthrough in global politics. The five permanent members of UN Security Council and Germany had agreed to reach an accord with Iranian government over its nuclear programme. The agreement offers Iran temporary relief of $7 billion from international economic sanctions in the form of eased trade restrictions and access to frozen assets in return for limiting uranium enrichment process by not exceeding beyond 5%. The interim deal also requires Iran to dilute the stockpiles of uranium that is enriched at 20%.
The deal got a mixed response from regional players, some states got further insecure as amid sharp criticism the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared it as ‘a historical mistake’ while Gulf States though having serious reservations have shown restrained response. Yet the world over response was a positive one as majority of states hailed the interim deal on the presumption that it might prove a harbinger of regional peace and stability.
Notwithstanding the assumptions of two diverging views, it is important to look into the factors that led to the signing of agreement. Western experts believe that three dimensional economic sanctions compelled Iran to sign a deal with P5+1, but one should not ignore the fact that perhaps United States has realized the fallacy of its policy of reshaping the Middle East by marginalizing the influence of Iran in the Middle East. United States has been unable to achieve its objectives in the region, so ignoring criticism at home, overlooking the Israel’s disagreement and opposition and concerns of its allies in the gulf region President Obama was determined to have a deal with Iran.
As far Iran is concerned, it considers the deal as a success of diplomacy that revived the legitimate role of the world body, as five permanent members of Security Council actively participated in the negotiations. The agreement is going to end Iran’s political isolation and its estrangement with the Western world that spans over more than three decades. Iranian economy would be the main beneficiary by unfreezing of Iranian assets in foreign banks and commercial restrictions on gold, cars and petrochemicals would be eased.
Commenting on the deal, Fareed Zakaria has noted in the TIME magazine that the deal is not like ‘US-China rapprochement in 1972 that ushered a new era in their bilateral relationship, but it’s like an arms control treaty between US and Soviet Union in which two adversaries are finding some common grounds’. The accord tackles the nuclear issue while there are still diverging interests on many other issues.
But whatever causes and factors are involved, the Iran nuclear deal is going to have far-reaching regional impact. It would enable Iran to play proactive role in defining the contours of emerging order in the Middle East by reducing sectarian divide in the region, and exerting influence on Asad Regime to resolve Syrian conflict. In this regard, to allay the concerns of Gulf States Iranian diplomacy is at work as Iranian foreign minister has been visiting these states. Apart from reshaping the strategic relations within Middle East, Iranian deal would give Iran strategic leverage in negotiating the post-withdrawal transition process in Afghanistan and would enhance trade and transit opportunities for regional states. Pakistan and Iran, the two neighboring states of Afghanistan have been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades, have stakes in the peace and stability of Afghanistan, these two states should develop a consensus on Afghan led and Afghan owned political framework.
As far Pakistan, it has welcomed the deal as it always desired a peaceful solution of Iranian nuclear issue. Given the US opposition to Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project, the deal is an important step for moving forward on the IP project that has been stalled since the new government came to power in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has been trying to persuade the US administration that the project does not breach US Sanctions law but US even after signing the deal with Iran insists that oil related sanctions are still in place and the IP project falls within the orbit of sanctions. Even if sanctions are applicable on IP project Pakistan should ask for such waiver that United States has granted to many other states that are cooperating with Iran in energy field. The Iranian nuclear deal should impact Pakistan positively, US should not hinder the project, and should consider Pakistan’s energy crisis seriously because Pakistan like Iran also has geostrategic importance and its stability can enhance regional harmony and stability.
The article was carried by Daily Times on December 15, 2013. The views expressed here belong to the author and do not reflect the policy of the IPRI.