ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Iran and the US, Too Early to Celebrate

The framework agreement that Iran has signed with the members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany opens the door to ending the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear programme, but there are many obstacles standing in the way of a final solution that would be acceptable to all. United States domestic politics, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s old and unresolved demands on “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear activities and differences in interpretations of the reversibility/irreversibility of actions to be taken, together form a tangled knot that still needs to be untied.

Western policy towards Iran over the past decade has been driven by a singular obsession—that the Islamic Republic intends to become a nuclear weapon state—and a singular belief—that it will achieve this goal if its civil nuclear energy programme is not drastically curtailed. Tehran, on the other hand, has always denied the charge that it is seeking nuclear weapons, accusing the United States (US) and its allies of using the nuclear-related sanctions to undermine the Iranian economy and political system.

In principle, the framework agreement unveiled on 2 April in Lausanne by Iran and representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (the P5+1) allows both sides to move away from the current impasse by demonstrating their bona fides and addressing each other’s concerns. Iran has agreed to scale back or eliminate those elements of its nuclear programme that carry the greatest proliferation risk, and provide greater scope for international verification of its civilian facilities. In return, the US and the European Union (EU) have undertaken to lift all national and international nuclear-related sanctions imposed in the wake of the 2006 referral of the Iran nuclear file to the UNSC.

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