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World needs U.S. Congress to give diplomacy a real chance in Iran nuclear deal

diplomacy-not-bombshighly-recommendedWhat’s Holding Up the Iran Nuclear Deal? The U.S. Congress must give diplomacy a real chance and not hinder nuclear negotiations with Iran. U.S. News By: Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Contributor for Al-Monitor 9 Jan 15 

Iran and the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — failed to reach a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program before the Nov. 24, 2014, deadline. However, they agreed in Vienna to a new March 2015 deadline for a political agreement and a final agreement (inclusive of annexes) by July 1. The next round of talks is scheduled for mid-January.

Informed European sources told me that the negotiators were on the verge of announcing a political agreement in Vienna, but it was blocked for apparently unknown reasons. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said: “In recent weeks, we have seen new ideas surface, flexibility emerge, that could, I repeat, could help resolve some issues, that had been intractable.” Interestingly enough, just a few days after the November marathon talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that “Israel had a critical role in stopping a deal with Iran.”………

The U.S. intelligence community has clearly stated in its National Intelligence Estimates over the past seven years that Iran has not made a decision to build a nuclear weapon. No one in Iran — and for that matter, anywhere — can stomach that a U.S. congressional leader would so openly follow the leadership of a foreign leader, in total neglect of the stated will and wish of his own president and national security bodies. It is unfortunate that such Israel-pleasing pronouncements by senior American statesmen only serve to further buttress the prevalent Iranian mistrust — including at the level of the supreme leader — of Washington’s serious interest in working out a mutually satisfactory deal with Iran.

Judging from my numerous recent exchanges with a wide range of informed, well-placed sources within the P5+1, I am confident that a comprehensive agreement is absolutely within reach, provided that the process is not torpedoed by the U.S. Congress and Netanyahu. The good news is that Iran and the world powers already have a common understanding on the major elements of a final deal, which would assure the maximum level of transparency and the verification of the International Atomic Energy Agency on the Iranian nuclear program (all key objective guarantees related to no breakout), lift the sanctions and respect Iran’s legitimate rights on enrichment under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

A diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue, as underlined by Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, would make it possible for Tehran and Washington “not to waste their energy against each other.” Without sounding unrealistically euphoric, it could be said that a nuclear deal would, in all probability, serve as the beginning of the end to decades of tension and hostility between the two estranged countries.

Obama’s recent remarks, including on the possibility of reopening of embassies, even if far-fetched at this moment, point to the direction that has to be taken, which, under the current circumstances, might take the form of quiet collaboration on fighting Salafist extremism and terrorism in the region. Such actual cooperation, preferably without fanfare, carries the potential for further expansion to include other regional hotspots and crises. It’s not an empty claim: Iran has been — and will be — an anchor of regional stability.

A diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue — the sooner the better — will remove the threat of any future military conflagration in the Middle East, already in tumult with the ongoing ugly violence in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. An ultimate failure of the nuclear negotiations, whether torpedoed by the Israel-U.S. Congress joint effort or other naysayers, would play in the hands of certain quarters in Iran to push for withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty — an eventuality that I presume few people would like to face after the North Korean affair.

With the stakes as high as they are, both with the nuclear dossier and the situation in the region, it is incumbent on the U.S. Congress to act in a way to give diplomacy a real chance and regional stability a real boost. The bottom line is clear: Both sides need each other. The United States without Iran would continue to see its problems in the region remain unresolved or even aggravated, and Iran without the United States would continue to suffer in other ways.

Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School and a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiators. His new book is titled “Iran and the United States: An Insider’s view on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace.”


January 10, 2015 - Posted by | general

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