Perilous Persia: What’s next? Ask Hassan Rouhani!

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Just as you think there is nothing interesting in the world of today, something amazing happens. From the Indian expedition to Mars while their poverty index keeps plunging to the depths below to the replica of the Great Wall planned to be erected between India and Pakistan for security reasons, but my focus will be something else rather than the conventional ‘Indo-Pak did this and Indo-Pak did that’ analysis; the focus will rather be on what Iran did; astounding, shocking and equally interesting! It is not only interesting to note that Iran has ‘agreed’ to the proposals of the combination of nations deputed to contain it from crossing the ‘Nuclear Limits’, but is also showing to threaten Israel who itself has seen countless instances of nuclear diversions leading to weaponization of its own civil nuclear material earlier.

So what has happened over the past years? Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president, takes on a paladin status when it comes to the controversial issue of nuclear inspections by the IAEA and concerned authorities, only to confirm the ambiguity of an alleged diversion of civilian nuclear material by Iran. The issue lingers on and takes us deep into the Cold War timeframe, with Russia assisting the completion of the Bushehr nuclear plant and the US yet again planning a naval containment of Iran on the apprehension of the closure of the Strait of Hormuz by the Iranian armed forces. What follows next is a game of wits where each party starts to intimidate each other and tests each other’s threshold of tolerance – where the US starts moving its battleships and starts releasing a barrage of research documents and statements to alert the world of their ready stance, and on the other end, Iran initiates a round of missile development plans and tacit indications of ‘almost there’ with respect to nuclear weapons.

What is more intriguing is the behavior of Iran. Where the president of Iran continuously alerts Israel of ‘massive destruction’ and ‘irreparable damage’, the Supreme leader of Iran consistently maintains that nuclear weapons and any other weapons capable of indiscriminate destruction are ‘religiously forbidden’ and shall not be a part of Iran’s defenses. Whatever ensues further is evidently and elaborately clear to the world, but suddenly, the Iranian deadlock ends when Iran agrees to a settlement where they agree to disband their plans of enriching beyond 5% and to neutralize their stockpiles that are beyond this limit.

The Geneva talks will keep this agreement for six months, and all parties will show compliance to their ends of the deal. Where Iran was severely battered economically due to the economic sanctions implemented to make Iran ‘succumb to its derogation’ and abandon their nuclear aspirations, the global community will compensate the damage done by paying a sum of $7 billion. Even with a lot of hue and cry by Israel and its declaring this agreement a ‘historical mistake’, the global stakeholders’ progress with it. To add a spice to this story, Iran also agrees to halt the development of the Arak nuclear facility, capable of producing plutonium.

In all this, the Iran-Israel quandary remains constantly in the middle, though in a global blind spot momentarily. President Rouhani maintains, though with little zest as compared to Mr. Ahmadinejad, the sentiments concerning Israel. However, the limelight has tilted from Israel to the nuclear question, and Benjamin Netanyahu is reduced only to a voice echoing from a distance. Excluding the entire attitude of President Obama, both domestically and in the international arena, Israel does not blend well with the American attitude. Now that Iran signals willingness to ‘curtail’ their nuclear aspirations and is due to receive a handsome amount in return, one begins asking questions – questions with precedents to back up the argument.

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is a Masters in Strategic and Nuclear Studies from the National Defense University. He can be reached on m.sharrehqazi@hotmail.com

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