Seminar Report

Iran Nuclear Deal

09 Dec, 2013    ·   4211

Ayesha Khanyari reports on the proceedings of the discussion

Amb Sheel Kant Sharma
Former Permanent Representative of India to all international organisations in Vienna

A lot of hard work has gone into putting the interim deal together. Rouhani represents the generational change that Iran has gone through. He is trying to rebuild Iran’s stand by mending Iran’s relation with the mainstream. He is working hard to undo the bad his predecessor Ahmedinijad did. Rouhani is working to reverse the process and regain credibility. His efforts to restructure Iran are to once again build the diplomatic into within the US. It is a real moment for the Obama administration too for they have achieved what they wanted with considerable statesmanship.

However, claims that the agreement will bring regional instability in the Middle East are being made too soon. Burdened with such claims, the deal cannot do justice to itself. Iran is not North Korea. They have made cautious statements to calm the rising fears in the Middle East. It is very keen on going forward with the deal. They will take the best steps in the months to come to reassure the world that they are open to change. It is too early to make any predictions about the consequences of a deal which is just born.

Both sides have gone home with cautious agreements and are determined to act on them.

Professor Chintamani Mahapatra
Chairman, Centre for Canadian, US and Latin American Studies, SIS, JNU

Why is the United States so keen to have a deal with Iran?

The Americans have learnt from past experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan thatmilitary action is not the ideal way to resolve issues. No matter how many sanctions the US imposes, Iran will continue its support to terror outfits like Hamas and Hezbollah. Therefore the best way to deal with Iran is to talk to them.

What compels Iran to come forth and negotiate now?

 The Iranian economy is suffering a huge loss due to the sanctions; high inflationary rates, cut off from the international banking system and a sharp fall in the value of the currency. The downfall of the economy has further lead to an absence of foreign technology and shortage of advanced western medicines in Iran. People in Tehran are learning from Soviet Union and North Korea; a country with nuclear capability but a weak economy has no way to go forward.

What will happen in the region?

If the final deal comes through it will not cause a sudden remapping of the geopolitical structure in the Middle East, but some sort of restructuring is likely. The Saudis are making statements to support the deal but deep down they fear that their position as a regional head is in danger. Russia is going to cement its diplomatic presence in the region.

The ultimate goal of the Americans would be to enter the Iranian markets. US would be interested to conclude a 123 Agreement with Iran like it has with India, UAE, China and others. If that happens, then the reordering may take place. US treats Iran as its natural partner and such a deal will give Iran an upper hand in the region. The Shia community is likely to become more empowered to strike a deal with the West.

Will Rouhani deliver?

Political polarisation in the US makes it very difficult to predict outcomes. There is a lot of bargaining taking place within the US administration. It is one thing to sign a deal but quite another to make it a success. The question remains, will the Senate endorse it?

Both Iran and the US are drawing red lines; Iranians want enrichment to continue and will not dismantle the infrastructure. US on the other hand has cast its net too wide; they demand practically everything from Iran. There are hardliners in Iran; some members of the Majlis who would consider rethinking if too much pressure is put to deliver.

Israel is trying very hard to find out what Iran is hiding so that it can show the world how bad a mistake the deal was. It is also important to see how the Obama administration will deal with the Israelis.

How will the deal affect the oil market?

Iran is very important in the oil sector. The oil market will see its own change. Oil prices are expected to come down and economies all around will benefit. But there will be those who do not like this decline as high prices were benefitting them.
To have a successful deal in one year, it is important to have consensus. But looking at the current scenario it is difficult to predict how things will unfold in the future.