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Will the US' follow-up deal with Iran succeed?
Six world powers led by the US and Iran took a significant and a hard-won step towards a possible nuclear rapprochement on Sunday, 12 January, 2014, announcing a deal to implement a landmark agreement that caps Iran’s disputed nuclear program in return for a modest easing of the effective crippling economic sanctions.

The six-month stopgap deal would halt the most worrisome nuclear work, dilute partly Iran’s nuclear ambitions and roll back some of Iran’s sophisticated advances. But at the same time it stops far short of ensuring that the country can never develop a weapon should it choose to do so.

In exchange for about 7 billion USD in economic sanctions relief, Iran since Jan. 20, 2014, will stop enriching Uranium beyond 5 per cent - a level high enough for energy purposes, but not for nuclear weapons - and will begin to dilute its existing stockpile of 20 per cent Uranium. Iran has also pledged not to construct more centrifuges and will submit to rigorous inspection of its facilities, though it does not have to shutter any of the existing centrifuges.

The agreement would give ‘enough’ time to the N5+1 to discuss follow-up agreement with Iran, which as per Western perspectives should be able to roll back fully successfully all aspects of Iranian nuclear weapon program. The fact is that none of the world powers; in the West and in the BRICS support Iran’s nuclear weapon program by conscious choice though the Russian Federation and China do show some marked deviation from global consensus. At the same time many among the two groupings do not support continuing tough sanctions either. The critics and defenders of this agreement argue on their oft-stated positions.

But then there are many hurdles for a follow-up agreement to succeed. The first one is the US Congress itself, which is planning to put tougher newer sanctions apparently to make the stopgap deal succeed and compel Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions fully though the White House has requested the Congress to delay legislating newer sanctions.

The US President, Barack Obama, has vowed to veto any legislative threat to the deal. But even if the US Congress passes newer legislation advocating putting tougher sanctions on Iran it can come into effect only after the lapse of the six month’s negotiating period.

The other one is Islamic hardliners in Iran’s Parliament itself. They too have proposed a similar agreement - to increase Uranium enrichment levels if the West tries to foul-play and dodge the Islamic theocratic state. The Arab partners of the US in the region and Israel are also not happy with the increased bonhomie and détente between the US and Iran and they would welcome a more balanced policy in the region, based on statistical reality.

Most of the Arab nations are unhappy with the supposed US withdrawal from the region and its pivot to East Asia; refocusing and reallocating its resources and energy by counterbalancing and somewhat containing the apparently hegemonic China, while continuing engagement with it. The US withdrawal from the Middle East, if it at all happens, would leave a great vacuum in the region, making many radicals; state and non-state actors, to fill the gap.

However, despite of all kind of opposition, Mr. Obama has hoped that follow-up agreement would help avoid potential hot-spot in the region from exploding into a regional conflict. Earlier he had hoped that the likelihood of successful and desirable follow-up agreement was 0.5 on a scale of 0 -1 though he is a little bit more optimistic now after the most recent breakthrough.

The fact is that not too many concerned people should be optimistic about the eventual deal till it happens so. The reason is that Iran would be caught in a dilemma choosing between the two: nuclear nationalism driven by Islamic zeal and economic selfishness supposed to be a universal desire by the West. I do not know, which way Iran would go but I think that Mr. Obama is slightly more optimistic than what he should be and also that the US Congress has good reasons to be skeptic about the possibility of deal failing in letter and spirit and eventual follow-up agreement not taking place.

Iran would assess the impact of relaxation of sanctions on its economy. It could go either way: if it succeeds in getting back to economic normal than Iran may take a hardened position on nuclear matters, while at the same time wish to excel and be a part of the global economic community could make it soften its stand. But the first option is practical and statistical in nature while the second one is more idealistic in economic sense and individualistic. In the end, the ultimate decision has to be taken by its Supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

He would probably like to play up with the psychology of political and business elites of the region and those of the West and most probably bet on rather simple premises that nuclearly ambiguous Iran would be preferred over by the sanctioned Iran by many, if not by all leaders of Islamic world and that the West would be divided on the matter because of its economic selfishness. A sanctioned Iran could go overtly nuclear while an ambiguous Iran would be slightly hesitant and would consider favorably risking international condemnation and isolation before it decide to go critical, all burst.

I think for the time being, the likelihood of the nuclear stand off between Iran and the West continuing is higher than a mutually agreeable follow-up agreement. This is true if the West does not leave too many loopholes in regulating its business during the interim-agreement period. But then there is nothing wrong in trying up a more consensual and lesser conflicting approach. At the same time the West on its part should never accept nuclear weapon capability of Iran.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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