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Tehran has committed to curb its nuclear program in return for eased economic sanctions. According to the six-month preliminary deal—coordinated in Geneva, Switzerland, by officials from the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany—Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium, allow additional international inspections, and push back the completion date for its plutonium-producing reactor.
The Washington Post reported: “…the text of the accord makes several major concessions to Tehran on the terms of a planned second-stage agreement. Though White House officials and Secretary of State John F. Kerry repeatedly said that Iran’s assertion of a ‘right to enrich’ uranium would not be recognized in an interim deal, the text says the ‘comprehensive solution’ will ‘involve a mutually defined enrichment program with mutually agreed parameters.’ In other words, the United States and its partners have already agreed that Iranian enrichment activity will continue indefinitely. In contrast, a long-standing U.S. demand that an underground enrichment facility be closed is not mentioned.”
Notably missing from negotiations was Israel.
CNN reported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reaction to the agreement: “What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it’s a historic mistake…It’s not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place.”
He continued: “For years the international community has demanded that Iran cease all uranium enrichment. Now, for the first time, the international community has formally consented that Iran continue its enrichment of uranium.”
Just days after signing the agreement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif announced continued work at the site of the nation’s plutonium-producing Arak reactor: “‘The capacity at the Arak site is not going to increase. It means no new nuclear fuel will be produced and no new installations will be installed, but construction will continue there,’ Zarif told parliament in translated comments broadcast on Iran’s Press TV” (Reuters).
Stratfor called signing the interim agreement “the easy part” and stated that Iran and the international community “face months of work to batten down domestic opposition, build convincing mechanisms to assure compliance and unthread complicated global sanctions…More difficult will be the process to reshape bilateral relations while virtually every regional player in the Middle East seeks ways to cope with an Iran that is no longer geopolitically encumbered.”
As worries surrounding Iran’s nuclear situation continue—and tensions ratchet up among the major regional players of Egypt, Israel, Syria and Saudi Arabia—many wonder what the next six months will really bring. Yet there is a clear roadmap for the long-term future of the region that almost everyone overlooks.