IRANIAN DEAL: Triumph of Diplomacy by Balogun Rauf

In  the 1970s, the resultant effects of arm race were let loose on the world, especially in the Middle East. This was the period when the treaty of non-proliferation came into force. The treaty recognised the UK, the USA, Russia(USSR), France and China as the nuclear powers, and equally agreed that North Korea, Israel, India, South Africa and Pakistan possessed capability.

Meanwhile In 1989, South Africa backed out from the path.

Iran, Iraq and Syria, in counter reaction to Israel in the Middle East, allegedly started developing nuclear weapons. This allegation was the chief reason behind the US invasion of Iraq under the Saddam administration. And Iraq is still in turmoil till date.

However, Iran has never  shyed away from being known as a US adversary since Its infamous revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah regime. Since that period, sanctions had been imposed on Iran. And the assets of the Iranian prominent figures were frozen. Iran was isolated from the global politico-economic system. All this did not deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons. During this period, Iran had in China and Russia, strong allies that were always ready to come to its aid at the UN security council against the US and European hegemony.Domestically, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Pakistan were always on hand to provide the moral shoulder, if not politico-economic support to lean on. Iran's situation was not helped with persistent pressure that Israel put on Washington, especially during the Obama administration to go harder and harsher on Iran. Make no mistake, the Israeli government knew that Iran would possess forcefully adversarial influence and power against its own interest in the region. The strategy to engage Tehran militarily caused  brinkmanship between the Republicans and the Democrats to widen. The  party of Lincoln believed that(still has the belief) the US military power have the magic but the Democrats stuck to their gun that diplomacy could beat Tehran to its game. Barack Obama deferred all pressure on Washington to rethink the diplomatic path it was taking but he consistently maintained that disarmament of the Iranian nuclear weapon plan was the most strategic tactic. However, his stance was not helped by the hardliners in Iran led by the supreme leader, Ayatollahi Khameoni, the ex-president Ahmad Ahmadinejad and Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who would always go for the jugular of the US government. But the 2013 elections that brought Mr Housani Roulhani to power in 2013 changed the dynamics of the standoff. The president had in Zarif Javad, foreign affairs minister, a man with swashbuckling temperament and demeanour. Both Mr Javad and John Kerry(who was appointed after Hillary Clinton resigned for 2016 US elections) engaged in back and forth meetings in Vienna- shifting grounds here and there.

Meanwhile,  during this tumultuous time the heat was turned up  at home on Mr Obama and the Democrats, because the Republicans believed the stubborn Tehran was being allowed to humiliate the USA, and more sanctions if not military power would teach it a lesson. But the fundamental question is, did the sanctions make Iran to back down on the building of nuclear weapons? No. Analyses and facts show that during those periods, Iran actually had freewill to build the nuclear weapons. For example, as at 2003, Tehran had 200 centrifuges, but today it has 19, 000(before the deal was brokered).The sanctions might have affected her economically but its nuclear investment was not threatened; China and Russia, though, offered external assistance. Also, during the sanctions, Iran established itself as a reckoning force in the region, and ever ready to counter the interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE and others on the Middle East politics. Tehran supported Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and others, and allegedly sponsored terrorist groups in order to serve its interests. These adversarial tendencies made the Republicans push for the use of the US military power. But here is the challenge. The Iranian nuclear facilities were built across the country. While some were closed to population centres, others were across mountains. So, there was no way to go about it without collateral damage. The workable alternative is to go to war with Tehran. Hell no! Mr Obama maintained his position and the majority of his party men supported him. Finally, in June last year, both Javad Zarif and John Kerry signed the deal that would have the Iranian nuclear weapons disarmed. This treaty will subject Tehran to inspection at any time from the UN, the US and others. The Republicans are still angry with Washington and 2016 US election hopefuls like Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and others are threatening fire and brimstone to cancel the deal. But the question, what will the other parties like France,Russia, Germany, the UK and others do, afrer strenuous long walk to achieve the deal? What are the implications? Firstly, it would help Mr Roulhani to fulfil his election promise of ensuring that Iranians enjoy socio-economic infrastructure as Iran will generate revenue when it starts selling its oil and gas to its consumers after being isolated for 38 years. Second, Tehran will obtain its frozen assets estimated at 120 billion dollars abroad. Third, it will benefit from the huge investment in oil and gas industry as the investment in nuclear programme has extended its technological frontiers. Fourthly, the deal will make the world a safer place. This is connected with the fact that the success of Iran in building nuclear weapons could prompt or encourage others to go for nukes. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are resounding examples in this aspect. And this will constitute a huge threat to the already fragile world of terrorism and counter-terrorrism where these nukes can get into the hands of terrorists. While Eris Schlosser avers in his book, Gods of Metal, that there are about 15,000 nukes, Hans Blux, the former Director at International Atomic Energy Agency, maintains that there are 20,000 nukes in th world. Fifthly, this deal will make the price of oil take a dive, because Iran is a major player in the global oil market. So, after 38 years of isolation, Tehran is going to engage in massive production. This coupled with the US shale oil and the blatantly hyper-massive production of oil by Saudi Arabia(this constitutes a disregard to OPEC) will affect the market. And Nigeria will bear the brunt as South Africa has indicated interest to starting buy from Tehran from now on, instead of its primary seller, Nigeria. Sixthly, Tehran will now be responsible for its actions and inactions in world politics, especially in the Middle East. Positively, last year, it ensured 48-hours ceasefire between the government of Al-Bashir and the rebels. It has backed Houthi-led government in Lebanon. And it is willing to do more. Seventhly, the deal helps to reinforce the belief that doplomacy can solve world issues without the traditional pattern of using the military power. And that is why the deal is a triumph of diplomacy. Though, the deal may not deter Iran from being a US adversary but at least will make it a bit responsible as researches have showed that as countries get integrated into the global politico-economic system, they tend to maintain peace and order for the fear of losing their investment whether bilateral or muliteral partnerships in trade, politics, culture and what have you. Let the doves sit back and clink glasses, enjoy the moment because the deal is for them. Diplomacy can work!

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