In Reprehension of a “Bad Deal”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mahdi Mohammadi
Chief Editor of IranNuc.IR and Expert on Strategic Issues

When it comes to negotiations over Iran's nuclear energy program, one of the most important questions, which faces the Iranian analytical community, is “what is the right logic to be used for the analytical treatment of Iran's nuclear diplomacy?” In more accurate words, the question is “which approach is more in line with Iran's national interests: a purely supportive approach to nuclear talks, a purely critical approach to those talks, or a third approach, which can be described as critical support?”

Any discussion in this regard should be started by noting that without a doubt, Iran is genuinely trying to reach an agreement with the opposite sides in its nuclear negotiations. This is, of course, nothing new. It has been the regular policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran that all parties involved in negotiations over Iran's nuclear issue should try to reach a sustainable and lasting solution for this problem. Iran also argues that the sole lasting solution is the solution that would make all negotiating parties believe that their interests would be met through that solution. It is noteworthy that Iran's determination to move in the direction of such a solution has nothing to do with the result of the country’s latest presidential election, nor is it the outcome of the pressures that have been put on the country as a result of international and unilateral sanctions. On the contrary, this has been Iran's fixed and unchanging strategy throughout the past decade (during which Iran's nuclear issue has been a matter of concern for the international community). There are, however, a host of reasons which can be mentioned here in a bid to explain why such a solution has not been found so far.

The first point to be considered here is that, as evidenced by the recent rounds of negotiations [between Iran and the six major world powers of the P5+1 group], there have been only a few occasions in the past in which the member states of the P5+1 group, especially the United States, have been really ready to agree on a solution over Iran's nuclear issue. In fact, to put it in more accurate words, the United States, for a variety of reasons, has not been ready to accept Iran's offer to reach a solution in all the instances that the Islamic Republic has been willing to agree on such a solution.

One reason for the lack of readiness to agree on a solution on the part of the United States stems from the fact that up to quite recently, the Americans had not reached a consensus in strategic terms over how to deal with Iran's nuclear issue. Even now when it seems that the US administration has reached the conclusion that it should take the first step in this regard, there are many people and forces within the political system of the United States that seek to stoke further tension between Tehran and Washington. In fact, they believe that prodding the US government to deal with Iran through non-diplomatic means would be the sole way of meeting their own interests. This problem has stirred serious concerns as to whether the United States would be really able to continue to tread its current path up to its very end. In the meantime, the fact that the United States is bent on taking the first step does not necessarily mean that the US administration is also ready, or even willing, to take the last step within the framework of a win-win deal as well.

Of course, this is not the main reason why the two sides have not reached an agreement to end the existing standoff over Iran's nuclear activities yet. The main reason, I think, is that the United States has always failed to take advantage of the existing opportunities to reach an agreement with Iran in the vain hope that it may be able to forge a better deal in the future. In fact, the United States has actually lost all the opportunities that have been offered to Washington up to the present time with the main argument being that better opportunities may come its way. In the eyes of the Americans, all the strategic developments that have taken place, at least, in the past five years, point to the misperceived fact that Iran has been changing its strategic calculations. As a result, they have done their best to come up with the most powerful combination of all the possible pressure options in order to keep the process of changing calculations in Iran going ahead. In doing so, they actually hope that in the continuation of that process, Iran will first change its proposal to the West as a prelude to complete alteration of the country’s nuclear policy. Right or wrong, the United States is currently assuming that it has been able to partially achieve that goal. A multitude of wrong signals sent from inside Iran in addition to the traditional misunderstanding of the true meaning of the strategic decisions made in Iran on the part of the United States, have led Washington to believe that Iran's strategic calculations have really changed. As a consequence of such a misunderstanding, they have reached the erroneous conclusion that Iran will soon also change its nuclear proposals, policies and behaviors. In view of the American political analysts, the result of the latest Iranian presidential election on June 14, 2013, was the sign of a tangible change in the political calculations of the Iranian society. They have also incorrectly concluded that authorizing Iran's new administration to get engaged in direct talks with the US administration is a telltale sign of changing calculations of the Islamic Establishment. There is no doubt that the United States is going astray by analyzing Iran's developments in this manner. However, it is important to note that the United States has been treading this wrong path for quite a while and it is not very easy to make it change course now.

The important point here is that both the US administration and its Congress are unanimous that the perceived change of calculations in Iran should be encouraged and even made more profound. They, however, have differences as to what is the best way for achieving this goal? The Congress and the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States actually believe that such a change in Iran's strategic calculations is the direct result of the unbearable pressures that have been put on Iran by imposing sanctions on the country. Therefore, they have incorrectly concluded that if the pressures are kept up and increased, the change in Iran's calculations will also inevitably become more profound. It is for this reason that under pressure from Israel, the US Congress has made up its mind to take advantage of even the slightest possible excuses in order to mount pressures on the Islamic Republic. However, it appears that the US administration is thinking differently from the Congress. The government in the United States assumes that pressures that have been already put on Iran have been powerful enough, and adding more pressure on the Islamic Republic will add nothing to their effect. However, the US administration argues, mounting pressure on Iran will send the message to Tehran that the United States is not serious enough in its pursuit of diplomacy and considers it just a tool to find new excuses for increasing political and economic pressures on Tehran.

An important point which should be explained here is that the United States is well aware that at the end of the day, it will have no better way to deal with Iran but diplomacy. One of the main points that the Americans have always brought up in their meetings with Israeli officials to explain their strategic assessments of Iran is that even if the United States and Israel attacked Iran, they would have to sit for negotiations with the Islamic Republic once the attack is over. At that time, the Americans argue, the agreement which would be reached with Iran would be, more or less, similar to the agreement that seems to be in the offing right now.

It appears that there are a few key issues which have increased the willingness of the United States for achieving an agreement with Iran.

Firstly, as said before, the Americans are well aware that they have no choice, but to reach an agreement with Iran and other options do not attract them in any way.

Secondly, the United States currently believes that a very good deal is on the table, which if lost, it may be the last opportunity ever for reaching an agreement with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.

Thirdly, the United States has reached the conclusion that there is also necessary political will to reach such an agreement among the top levels of the political hierarchy in Iran.

Fourthly, the American leaders have explicitly noted that they are interested in taking steps to bolster the standing of [the new Iranian President] Mr. [Hassan] Rouhani inside the country. Therefore, they assume that if an agreement is reached over Iran's nuclear issue, which would lead to facilitation of economic conditions in the country, it would also help them to achieve their goal [for bolstering Rouhani’s domestic standing].

However, the fact that Iran is also seeking an agreement with the opposite sides should not lead to the misunderstanding that Tehran will consider any agreement as a good agreement and reaching an agreement – even a bad one – is more important to the Islamic Republic than the contents of the agreement. In fact, the reality is quite the opposite. Iran is actually looking forward to reaching a good agreement and the Iranian negotiating team should bear in mind that such a good agreement is quite achievable if they conduct the negotiations in a correct, smart, and accurate manner. At the same time and in a minimal analysis, even an agreement which would not cross the red lines set by Iran around its nuclear energy program could be considered a good agreement.

When it comes to this point, it is incumbent on the Iranian negotiating team to define the general specifications of a good agreement once and for good. One of the suitable methods through which they can determine the general specifications of a good deal is to see which agreement would be considered “bad.”

After taking into account all the policies, strategies, and positions that have been adopted by the Iranian administration, in particular, and the entire Islamic Establishment, in general, one may say that from the viewpoint of the Iranian leaders, any agreement characterized by the following specifications would be considered a bad deal:

1. An agreement which would maintain the legal infrastructure for the continuation of international sanctions against Iran;

2. An agreement that would not be balanced in which, in return for many concessions given by Iran to the opposite sides, the Islamic Republic would be given unremarkable points as quid pro quo;

3. An agreement which would solve urgent problems of the West, but take Iran's urgent problems as hostage;

4. An agreement which would damage the infrastructure and foundations of industrial-scale uranium enrichment in Iran;

5. An agreement which would deal irreparable blows to the technical section of Iran's nuclear energy program;

6. An agreement which would be based on extreme optimism toward the policies of the United States;

7. An agreement which would strip Iran of all the bargaining chips for the next round(s) of negotiations;

8. An agreement which would, in any way, deprive Iran permanently from its inalienable rights;

9. An agreement which would force Iran to give up the nuclear materials that it possesses and that are considered as a national asset for the country; and

10.  An agreement, which would confirm the enemy’s miscalculations about Iran being brought to its knees as a result of foreign economic and political pressures.

Key Words: Bad Deal, Iran, Iran's Nuclear Energy Program, P5+1 Group, US Administration, Congress, International Sanctions, Uranium Enrichment, Political Pressures, Mohammadi

Source: Vatanemrooz Daily
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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