Academic journal article Global Governance

The Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis and Its Consequences for the Middle East

Academic journal article Global Governance

The Solution to the Iranian Nuclear Crisis and Its Consequences for the Middle East

Article excerpt

After a decade of failed nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), they have finally fleshed out a temporary agreement that will hopefully restore trust in the peaceful character of Iran's nuclear program among all parties. To do so, the temporary agreement must become the basis for renewed discussions on a final deal and the contours of a regional nuclear order in the Middle East. In a broader sense, the outcome of the nuclear negotiations with Iran will have a profound impact on nuclear nonproliferation, a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ), and a zone free of nuclear weapons and of other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems (WMDFZ) in the Middle East. This article examines the consequences of the breakthrough in nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1. A negotiated settlement will be based on the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with measures to address key demands from all parties involved. For the P5+1, this includes transparency and verification over the nature of the Iranian nuclear program, ensuring there will be no breakout. Iran's main demand includes respecting its rights under the NPT, including enrichment and lifting sanctions, as negotiated in the November 2013 interim agreement between it and the P5+1. Furthermore, a permanent settlement on the Iranian nuclear issue will inevitably introduce modified and newly formulated measures and technical modalities at the regional level, which will enhance nonproliferation efforts. These milestones, which are described in this article, will pave the way toward strengthening the call for concerted efforts to realize a WMDFZ in the Middle East and will help preserve the global nuclear nonproliferation regime in the future. KEYWORDS: Iran, nuclear crisis, uranium enrichment, Middle East, weapons of mass destruction.

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THE WORLD POWERS AND IRAN SIGNED AN INTERIM NUCLEAR DEAL, THE JOINT Plan of Action, on 24 November 2013, with plans to begin new rounds of talks to reach a mutually agreed, long-term comprehensive solution by 20 July 2014. (1) Following the interim deal, subsequent rounds of talks resulted in Iranian and P5+1 negotiators making good progress toward a settlement. However, they could not agree on the contours of a comprehensive nuclear deal. As a result, the talks were extended through 24 November 2014 and pledge to continue compliance with the conditions of the interim deal. (2)

The past three rounds of nuclear talks have progressed relatively smoothly since they focused primarily on setting the agenda and airing individual positions and concerns. The fourth round of high-level nuclear talks in Vienna that concluded on 16 May, however, was a far more difficult process as both sides started to draft the contours of a comprehensive nuclear deal. (3) Following the talks, all sides expressed their frustration at the lack of progress, but remained hopeful to continue their discussions toward a fruitful end. From the Iranian point of view, there was no tangible progress in writing the draft text of the comprehensive agreement due to the unreasonable and excessive demands of the West during the talks. (4) The day after the talks, the lead Iranian negotiator and foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, "Back from Vienna after tough discussions. Agreement is possible. But illusions need to go. Opportunity shouldn't be missed again like in 2005 [referring to the nuclear talks between Iran, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom (EU3) from 2003 to 2005, which failed primarily due to US opposition]." (5) Addressing graduating West Point cadets on 28 May, President Barack Obama said about the nuclear talks with Iran, "The odds of success are still long, but for the first time in a decade, we have a very real chance of achieving a breakthrough agreement--one that is more effective and durable than what we could have achieved through the use of force. …

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