Iran's Domestic Consensus Key to Nuclear Deal

Monday, January 6, 2014

Kayhan Barzegar

While the world is looking at the challenges posed by the US Congress imposing new sanctions — and subsequently ruining the Geneva interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 — one must not ignore another important aspect of the challenges: how to keep the existing political consensus within Iran’s domestic politics on the conduct of the nuclear talks and reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal.

At present, Iran’s domestic politics are more concerned with the content of the prospective comprehensive nuclear deal, rather than the result of the recent Geneva interim agreement, so that Iran doesn’t lose its strategic bargaining cards, which are considered to be central to maintaining political parity in the course of accepting Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

In Jan. 2011, I published an article in the Christian Science Monitor arguing that the continuation of the talks, and acquiring a sustainable and meaningful nuclear deal, requires keeping a political consensus on Iran’s domestic politics. This is a result of perceiving a win-win situation in the course of the nuclear negotiations; the intense US pressure on minimizing Iran’s interests in the talks will break the consensus among the political forces inside Iran.

Keeping that political consensus is more fragile and complicated today because Iran has a more advanced indigenous nuclear program and enrichment capability, which always — despite the all the political pressures and economic sanctions — tempts the inside political forces to easily reject any deal that ignores Iran’s nuclear interests. In other words, Iran's enriching uranium is something the other side strives to cap, control or halt. This is exactly the focus of Iran’s bargaining power.  

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*Kayhan Barzegar is the director of the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran and a former research fellow at Harvard University. He also chairs the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Islamic Azad University in Tehran.

Source: Al Monitor

More By Kayhan Barzegar:

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*Rouhani and the Prospects For US-Iran Nuclear Talks:

*Paths forward for the Nuclear Suppliers Group:

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.

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