Geneva Accord: A Breakthrough
reached at in Geneva between
the P5+1 powers and Iran on the
nuclear issue represents a diplomatic breakthrough. This
interim agreement for
six months has the potential for a comprehensive settlement to
be worked out. The
agreement has come after repeated rounds
of negotiations between the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council: United States,
China, France and Britain,
on the one hand
on the other.
By this accord, Iran
not to enrich uranium beyond 5 percent strength. It will
dilute the existing
enriched uranium of 20 percent strength. Iran
has also agreed to enhanced
monitoring and inspection by the IAEA.
In return, the
Western powers have
agreed to relax some of the sanctions and to release some of
the Iranian oil
funds which were frozen. These are estimated to be worth $ 7
billion for Iran. Iran
consistently maintained that it has the right to enrich
uranium as a signatory
of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The interim agreement
provides for Iran continuing
to enrich low level uranium. The United States
continues to maintain that Iran
has no right to enrich uranium fuel and this has not been
conceded in the
has refused to accept this and points to the right being
accorded to enrich
uranium upto 5 percent.
The Russian foreign
Lavrov has provided a correct interpretation of the agreement
by stating that
“We agree with the necessity to recognise Iran’s right to
including the right to enrichment, with the understanding that
all questions we
currently have for the program will be settled and the whole
program will be
put under the IAEA’s strict control.”
an indication of the problems that still lie ahead in arriving
comprehensive agreement. But it is clear that both sides have
compromises. Behind the success of the Geneva
accord is the silent diplomacy which has taken place between
US and Iranian
negotiators in the past few months.
The significance of
the Geneva accord lies in the
fact that the Iran
nuclear issue has been the instrument
wielded by the US
and the Western
powers to isolate and impose stringent sanctions on Iran.
At the height of the neocon
Bush administration days, the aim was to effect a “regime
change” in Iran.
dispute has been the unrelenting hostility of the US
since the 1979 revolution which overthrew the pro-Western Shah
ushered in an Islamic republic. President Bush took this
after the 2001 terrorist attack on the US,
when he declared Iran
part of the “axis of evil” along with Iraq
The nuclear issue
came to the
centrestage in 2006. Iran
is a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As
such it has the
right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and
to have the full
nuclear fuel cycle including the right to enrich the fuel. It
is this right to
enrich that was contested by the US
and the West. They accused Iran of taking
steps to build nuclear weapons.
In a vote in the
IAEA in September
2005, the matter was referred to the UN Security Council and
imposed on Iraq
in terms of its acquiring equipment which would help develop
weapons technology. The UN imposed other sanctions
subsequently on Iran acquiring
technology related to defence. The United States,
unilaterally imposed stringent sanctions meant to strangle Iran’s
industry and its financial sector. In July 2012, the EU
imposed an oil embargo
was acting in tandem with Israel
which considers Iran
to be the main threat in the region. The US
has also utilised its traditional allies like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states
to heighten the isolation of Iran.
After the ouster of Saddam Hussain and the occupation of Iraq, the US
and its Arab allies concentrated on destabilising Syria,
which is closely allied to Iran.
The result has been that the civil war raging in Syria
has seen the extreme Islamic
fundamentalist forces taking charge of the fight against the
The United States’ strategy in West Asia
has only stoked sectarian conflicts and the Islamist forces.
This has been seen
in Iraq, Libya, Yemen
The Syrian conflict was threatening to spill over to the
President Obama had
to withdraw from
a military strike against Syria
after the diplomatic efforts of Russia.
The diplomatic breakthrough on Iran
has come in the background of this diplomacy in Syria.
Arabia are unhappy over
developments. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has called
“historic mistake”. Israel
continues to threaten military action against Iran.
which openly expressed its anger at the US not proceeding with the
military action on Syria
is also disappointed with the agreement in
Within the United States, President
Obama faces opposition to any
rapprochement with Iran.
In the US Congress both Democratic and Republican
threatening more sanctions against Iran
unless it surrenders its
Despite all these
require to be overcome, the Geneva
accord is still a major step forward. In Iran,
it has become possible after
the changed situation after the election of Hassan Rouhani as
has also been compelled to recognise the dangerous
implications of the whole
region getting destablised in the wake of the Syrian conflict.
imminent withdrawal of American troops from Afghanisatan, it
has to reckon with
the role Iran
can play as a
regional player in stabilising the situation in Afghanistan.
The settlement of
the nuclear issue
will also be
beneficial to India.
Here it is pertinent to note that the UPA government acted
own interests when it succumbed to the US pressure and voted against
IAEA in September 2005 which enabled the matter to be taken up
at the UN
Security Council. The UPA government went back on the
pipeline project. India
subsequently caved in to the US
pressure of sanctions and India’s
import from Iran
was halved. Till 2011, Iran
had been the second biggest supplier of oil to India.
Now with the United States
moving for a rapprochement with Iran,
can only rue its shortsighted
and craven stance.
(November 27, 2013)