Opinion

Mother of all nuclear deals

Stanly Johny | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on April 03, 2015

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The Iran-West pact will tilt the balance of power in West Asia

The framework agreement reached between Iran and world powers on Thursday is a rare silver lining. Not many expected a breakthrough in the Iranian nuclear standoff given the acrimony between Tehran and the West before the talks. Iran will reduce its uranium enrichment infrastructure by 75 per cent, from 19,000 installed centrifuges to 5,000. It will also cut its stockpile of enriched uranium from 8 tonnes to 300 kg; destroy or export the core of its plutonium plant at Arak; and ship out all spent nuclear fuel. However, it will keep a small nuclear programme — the Natanz facility will continue to enrich uranium on a smaller scale — and, more importantly, “all overwhelming sanctions” will be lifted after international agencies certify Iran has met its obligations. It’s a win-win deal — the international community can stop Iran acquiring nuclear warheads and Tehran will get the crippling sanctions lifted even as it continues to keep a small nuclear programme for peaceful purposes.

But what was reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, is only a framework agreement. June 30 is the deadline for the signing of the final comprehensive deal. There are still some gaping holes in the framework accord. One of the key demands of Iran was an immediate lifting of sanctions. A long delay could jeopardise the process. The greatest challenge, though, comes from Israel and Saudi Arabia who are not happy even with talks with Iran, forget a nuclear deal. The Israelis had tried to sabotage the talks earlier. The Saudis went on to bomb Yemen last month to defeat an Iran-supported militia.

But if Iran (and its partners) overcomes these challenges, it will mark a tectonic shift in West Asian geopolitics. It would also rank as Barack Obama’s top foreign policy achievement.

Stanly Johny, Assistant Editor

Published on April 03, 2015
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