Land of Middle East is rich in Oil and Gas reserves. 81.5 percent of world proven oil reserves are located in OPEC member countries. Saudi Arabia has 21.9 percent while Iran has 12.9 percent world proven oil reserves. Its importance is also due to its historical linkage with three big religions of the world: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. It is also called the land of prophets.
Currently, the Middle East is in chaos. Never ending civil wars, sectarian conflicts, the arms race, and human rights crisis in Syria, Palestine, and Yemen depict the present situation. The proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arab is also very active in ME. Iran and Saudi Arabia are two major power brokers of this region and both want to gain hegemony in this region. Iran has long been using its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria for supporting pro-Iran governments. Israel the only Jewish state in the world is also present in ME and all benefits of this internal confrontation of Muslim countries goes to Israel who is strengthening its illegal occupation on Palestine. Sameh Hassan Shoukry, Egyptian foreign minister, has said that there is only a single problem with Iran: Its hegemonic agenda.
In this Atomic bomb era, Nuclear technology is the most important to gain superiority. Iran started its nuclear program in the 1950s with American aid. Iranian Atomic energy body was created in 1973. After Khomeini revolution in 1979, Iran abandoned its nuclear program. Many nuclear scientists fled from Iran. Iran restarted its nuclear program in 1984 and in 1995 it signed a nuclear contract worth $800 million with Russia. After suspension in 2003, nuclear enrichment restarted in 2006 at Natanz. In Aug 2006, Iran established a heavy water reactor. Iran said in March 2012 that it is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz plant. Iran announced an expansion of Nuclear Fuel Production in April 2013.
Due to nuclear program, Iran had to face international sanctions. In 1996 American president Bill Clinton imposed sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program. After a decade in 2006 United Nations also imposed sanctions on Iran. In 2010 UN approved new sanctions. West expanded its sanctions against Iran in 2011. EU imposed an embargo on Iranian oil in 2012. The US bolstered sanctions in 2013 and also imposed sanctions on those who are aiding Iran.
These sanctions played a key role in bringing Iran on table talks to stop its nuclear program. In 2013 Iran was facing very dire economic conditions due to these sanctions. Its currency rate was down and Iranian public came out for protests against inflation.
In 2013 elections Hassan Rohani elected as Iranian president. Shortly after two months as president, he showed his intentions on seeking a nuclear accord to end these sanctions. After many discussions in Geneva and Vienna between Iran and world six powerful countries: United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China on July 14, 2015, Iran Nuclear deal finalized. Iranian foreign minister, Muhammad Javad Zarif, struggled well for this Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
There were five major points of this JCPOA.
- Reduction in Iranian Uranium stockpiles: The deal required Iran to give up 97% of Uranium. It was downsizing of Uranium stockpile of 10,000 kg to 300kg
- Uranium enrichment: Iran can produce 3.67% enriched Uranium
- Reduction of Centrifuges: 19,000 centrifuges would be reduced to 5000
- Inspections: UN officials will be allowed to monitor nuclear and other sides including military ones.
- Sanction relief: US, EU, and UN will lift energy, economic and financial sanctions against Iran
Due to this relief of sanctions Iran got many economic benefits. Iranian GDP in 2015 declined by 1.6 percent, but in 2016 the economy grew by about 12.5 percent. Exports of goods and services rose by more than 25 percent, which led to a rise of about 80 percent in surplus in the current account. A surge of about 66 percent in the inflow of foreign direct investments was also recorded in 2016.
Iran also returned to the global energy economy. Oil production rose by dozens of percentage points in 2016 and the real oil GDP growth rate rose by about 62 percent. The improvement in the energy sector also continued in 2017.
On the other hand, non-oil GDP growth was only about 3.3 percent in 2016. Although this is a record high for the past five years, this is a relatively moderate growth rate, considering that the point of reference is the low GDP of 2015. The data for 2017 show that additional recovery in economic activity unrelated to the energy sector has begun and the International Monetary Fund expected the aggregate growth to reach a reasonable rate of more than 4 percent in 2017.
Along with this economic growth, Iran continued its bid toward nuclear technology. On October 10, 2015, Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile, the Emad. The Emad is a more precise version of the Shahab-3, believed to be capable of carrying a 750 kg payload over 1,700 kilometers. The test was a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929 (2010). Iran tested another medium-range ballistic missile in November 2015. On March 9, 2016; Iran test-launched two different variations of the Qadr medium-range ballistic missile. Iran’s research and development plan for advanced centrifuge machines in mid-2016. Iran test fires a medium-range ballistic missile, in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 at the start of 2017. Iran and China resolve a price dispute and complete an agreement to modify Iran’s Arak reactor in April 2017. Iran paraded its new medium-range ballistic missile tested in January, the Khorramshahr, with a range of about 2,000 km, in a military parade in September 2017.
However, in its recent reports, IAEA showed satisfaction on Iranian compliance with JCPOA. Iran has lowered its Uranium stockpiles. Since Donald Trump has sat on the presidential chair in the oval office, he is running his foreign policy totally opposite to Obama. He withdrew from Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and on May 8, 2018, he withdrew from Iran Nuclear deal. America also announced the imposition of sanctions on Iran and its aides. Other parties to the deal including US close allies: UK, France, and Germany have shown regret on American withdrawal. EU has also given a statement against cancellation of JCPOA. Russia and China have also supported Iran’s point of view.
Many international and regional analysts are regarding this decision as historical blunder due to its impacts on the world. Iran will not lose much after Trump announcement. It has now close diplomatic ties with EU, Russia, and China. If US impose a trade embargo on Iran than it can trade with rest of the world as America cannot impose sanctions on EU, Russia, and China at once. The worst consequence of cancellation of this deal is that IAEA officials have to stop their inspection and Iran will have no limitation for production of the Atomic bomb. According to many analysts, Iran can produce much Uranium within one year enough for the creation of Atomic bomb.
Once Iran gained the bomb than their will be a nuclear race in the Middle East. Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubair, has said that if Iran got atomic bomb then Saudi Arabia will also get that at any cost for maintaining its sovereignty. There has been arm race between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia has signed defense contract of more $100 billion dollars with America along with total contracts of worth $350 billion last year. Iran nuclear program will exaggerate Saudi paranoia and it will now spend more on its defense. Its benefit will go to the United States and it’s weapon industry which will be able to sell weapons at high cost by hijacking Iranian threat to Saudi sovereignty.
The second main party how is gaining the benefit of the present situation in Israel. It is impossible to deny the influence of Jewish lobby on American foreign policy. Israel does not want stable and peaceful the Middle East because it will be a hurdle in Jewish ambition of greater Israel. Chaos in the Middle East is in favor of Israeli occupation of Palestine. Washington has recognized Jerusalem as Jewish capital last year. Saudi-Iran confrontation will further help Israel and Jewish armament companies.
This situation will lead to a never-ending nuclear race resulting in a disastrous war if proper steps were not taken by world leaders. A peaceful and stable middle east is in favor of a peaceful world. World leaders must take serious steps to halt this nuclear race. Because in another case the world will get much less than it will lose.