Take a Reality Check

Deputy Chief Editor
Take a Reality Check
Take a Reality Check

Robust diplomacy and profound technical skill will be put to a test of epic proportions in the coming ten weeks as Iran and the so-called P5+1 meet to work out the minute details of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Friend and foe will be watching at close range if the long and lengthy nuclear dispute over Tehran’s nuclear energy program will be brought to a successful conclusion.

Though the talks are mostly held between the six powers (the five UN Security Council veto powers plus Germany) and Iran, much will be the function of a better “understanding” between Washington and Tehran. As such, the Rouhani administration and the Obama White House have invested immense political capital in a solution to the complex negotiations that should end by a self-imposed June 30 deadline.

Both have done so for a whole set of dissimilar reasons. Suffice to say, the former wants to unload the unjust sanctions baggage that has messed up the Iranian economy, and the latter has both eyes on his legacy, not to mention what failure would entail for the future of the already descending Democrats. Whether or not the two presidents will achieve their lofty goals should become clearer as springtime in Tehran and Washington makes way for the hot summer fast approaching.

Much remains to be done and time is of essence. Even before the stage was set for the final round, the hardline Republicans and sworn opponents of Barack Obama unsheathed their swords telling the embattled US president that any deal, nuclear or otherwise, should be on their (Israeli) terms.   

 Those with basic knowledge of recent Iranian history and its advanced nuclear energy program concur that that is not going to happen.

What is rather visible, on the other hand, is the risk of unjustified expectations by either side about what the other might concede. The same risk is apparent in comments, both in official and unofficial quarters, about such specifics as the number of centrifuges Iran can spin, volume of uranium enrichment, duration of the JCPOA, and most importantly, lifting the sanctions (read economic war) on Iran.  

Conventional wisdom has it that unrequited expectations will lead to animosity during and after the unusually tough final negotiations. And mind you, this would be an unfortunate development neither side can afford for understandable reasons. The present opportunity if far too important, and the final phase of the intricate talks far too crucial to be sacrificed at the altar of irrationally or fallacy.

Tehran will be careful not to pitch its demands and hopes too high, nor should it appear to be willing to undertake more than it really can. So far it has clearly declined what it cannot accept for the sake of any “future easing of sanctions” that the western powers are tying tightly to “verifications” by the IAEA, the agency that for years has been everything but impartial in handling the Iranian nuclear dossier. On the same wavelength it must be mentioned that Tehran is clearly able to shoulder what it can, without risking a deficit when it comes to delivering.

It merits mention that the stakes are high for both Iran and the United States. Iran on Rouhani’s watch is aware of the gravity of the situation and has long crossed the fear barrier. It is not oblivious to the fact that a defining feature of the modern world is interaction and interdependence, not fear or intimidation.  That is why it is trying to reach out to the outside world on a different level and gradually build the necessary contours of trust in the peaceful nature of its nuclear energy program and its responsible foreign policy.

The time has come for the US and its western allies to read the writing on the wall. After all, they together stand accused of inaugurating military threats and unilateral economic sanctions, and in the process creating pain and misery for entire nations.  They truly need to take a pause, stop demonizing those they do not understand, and put an end to the unsafe mantra that the West alone has the whole truth.