Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Iran's Nuclear Agreement: Rethinking Pakistan's Middle East Policy

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Iran's Nuclear Agreement: Rethinking Pakistan's Middle East Policy

Article excerpt

Introduction

Middle East is today in a state of flux. Civil wars, insurgencies, range of extremist groups, poorly governed states and political instability afflict the region. Two dominant players Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in fierce competition for regional dominance through proxy wars. Extra-regional powers, eager to promote their strategic interests are taking sides and their policies compound the regional tension and conflict (Kinzer, 2011)

The geopolitical frame work in the Middle Eastis collapsing. Russian's recent military involvement in the muddled situation in Syria is a manifestation of fracturing role of the US assembled arrangement that surfaced in the wake of Arab-Israeli war in 1973(Kissinger, 2015). The rise of ISIS, war in Yemen, multilayered conflict in Syria, unrest in Libya and political instability in Egypt have meanwhile created an environment of abject uncertainty.

Amidst these ominous developments, the P5+1 agreement with Iran on nuclear issue has thrown open new opportunities and challenges in the region and beyond. After prolong international isolation and acrimony, Iran and the US, along with latter's allies, reached what has been called a comprehensive, long-term verifiable agreement. The accord aims at putting a halt to Iran's nuclear weapon programme (Khattak, 2015.)Iran has agreed with six world powers to limit its sensitive nuclear activities for more than a decade in return for the lifting of sanctions(Iran's key nuclear sites, 2015). Diplomacy finally won.

Overview

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 159 page document, authored by Obama administration on the nuclear programme of Iran was inked in Vienna on 14 July 2015. The agreement between five permanent members of Security Council (United States, Russia, France, China, United Kingdom) plus Germany and European Union is seen as a victory of diplomacy over confrontation(Qureshi, 2015).But until the end, both Israel and Saudi Arabia remained staunch opponents of the deal with Iran. Their entreaties and pleas were however set aside by the powerful countries involved in the negotiations. Their aim was to pull out an arrangement from Iran under rigorous stipulations that would prevent Tehran from furthering its nuclear pursuits with military objectives(Qureshi, 2015).

The agreement entails Iran to bring downits existing stockpile of low enriched uranium by 98percent,possibly by way of transferring excess to Russia. It also seeks to close down 2/3 of centrifuges at Iran's principal nuclear facility at Natanz. The accord further prohibits designing of warheads by Iran and conducting tests on detonators and triggers that could be weaponized. In return, Iran will be provided relief on the international sanctions against its economy as well as oil industry. The deal also allows release of an estimated US$ 100-150 billion held in frozen Iranian assets around the world. It will now allow Iran to export its large reserves of oil and gas to regional and extra-regional countries; conduct trade with EU and engage in long overdue domestic development projects.

The U.S. Iran relations at a glance

Iran had been a strategic partner of U.S. prior to Islamic Revolution in 1979.Following the Islamic Revolution, fifty-two U.S. nationals were held hostage atthe U.S. Embassy in Tehran, for 444 days (November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981) by Iranian students supporting Islamic Revolution. Iranians demanded return of former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who took refuge there. This was to prove a turning point in the U.S. -Iran bilateral relations(The new Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide, 2015).The protracted Iran Iraq war that began in 1980s triggered by latter and provoked by the United States ended up with clear divisions in the Middle East - Sunni Muslim of Middle East led by Saudi Arabia and Shia Muslim of Middle East led by Iran (The new Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide, 2015). …

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