In the aftermath of the brand-new interim deal concerning Iran’s Nuclear Enrichment Program, the world is left in an awkward position. Do we applaud an unexpected step towards de-nuclearizing? Or do we remain skeptical of a barebones 6-month interim agreement? The truth is: both are somewhat true. For the first time since 2003, the international community, specifically the P5+1 (the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany), has successfully managed to strike a deal with the previously uncooperative and hard-lining Tehran. But at the same time, the agreement requires Iran to dilute enriched-uranium and stall development of centrifuges and reactor facilities for a mere 6 months. In return, the UN agrees to relieve certain sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports and allow access to previously frozen bank accounts. However, Iran’s side of the deal seems oddly imbalanced. With an estimated relief of only $7 billion to Iran’s economy (a tiny fraction of their GDP) and with the brutal sanctions on Iran’s oil still in play, it’s hard to imagine Tehran smiling over the deal. Therefore, the agreement must lead us to believe that the interim deal is not a groundbreaking symbol of peace nor is it a frail foreign policy framework. But rather, the conclusion of the November 24th discussion indicates a mild, but prospective shift in Middle Eastern politics—one that the US and certainly disadvantaged Iran must recognize.
So what’s changing? Are Iran and the Middle East finally thawing out from the Mediterranean Cold War? Probably not. However, with the election of reformist Hassan Rouhani in June of 2013 and the fateful telephone conversation on September 27, between US President Barack Obama and Rouhani (the first conversation between US and Iranian leaders in nearly three decades), Iran seems to be warming up to the US.
From the get-go, Rouhani appeared as a saving-grace after long years of hardline politics, serving as the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council with a leading role in nuclear negotiations with the US, earning the nickname, “Diplomat Sheikh”. With a leader focused on opening discussion between political and economic rivals, Iran should pursue further dialogue and negotiations with P5+1 in order to lift the harmful economic sanctions.
That being said, at what point should/can the international...