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Iran's Nuclear Dispute, a Historical Opportunity for West

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Javad Haghgoo
PH.D. in International Studies & University Lecturer

Iran's nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 group of countries have reached a sensitive stage. Many people believe that there is still a tortuous and long way ahead of the two sides before getting at a final agreement as a self-designated deadline at the end of June approaches. This “tortuosity” is the result of various reasons and factors; however, the most important of those factors are “negative mentality,” and “pessimism” of Iranians toward big global powers, especially the Western powers. The answer to why and how this mentality has been created among Iranians should be sought in the contemporary history of Iran. Political developments in contemporary Iran, especially during the past century and particularly in the field of foreign relations, have played a great role in shaping the current identity of Iranians. And one of the most important features of this identity is the issue of pessimism and suspicion toward big global powers.

However, there are certain junctures of history, which should be considered as turning points in “deceptive” and “treacherous” behaviors of big powers toward Iran, which have greatly exacerbated the sense of pessimism toward them among the Iranian nation. The type of actions taken by big powers during Iran's Constitutional Revolution, the World War I, the World War II, the military coup d’état [against the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq] on August 19, 1953, and finally the way they chose to deal with Iran before, during and after the Islamic Revolution, are all of special import in this regard, because these developments constitute the most important junctures of Iran's contemporary history.

Following ominous measures taken by the governments of Russia and the UK to divert the Iranian Constitutional Revolution from its correct path, the country saw a flurry of aggressive measures by big global powers in other junctures of its contemporary history, especially through the first and second world wars.

During the First World War (August 1914 to November 1918), the Iranian government and nation went through one of the most horrendous sections of their history. Despite this situation, then Iranian king, Ahmad Shah, ordered his chancellor, Mostofi-al-Mamalek, to declare Iran's impartiality in the World War I through a communiqué published on November 1, 1914. Unfortunately, Iran's impartiality was never respected by big powers involved in the war as a result of which the Iranian territory was invaded by foreign forces from various directions. Famine, destruction and general misery were the sole results of the presence of big powers on the Iranian soil.

During the World War II (September 1939 to August 1345), the Iranian government, once again, proclaimed its impartiality as it had done during the World War I. Nonetheless, Iran's territory was overrun by the Allied forces, especially the British and Russian forces. During that war, once more, big powers paid no attention to the Iranian government’s declaration of impartiality and occupied Iran's territory under such empty excuses as fighting Germany spies, thus inflicting heavy damage on the Iranian nation. The crisis that resulted from the occupation of Iran's Azarbaijan region by the Russian forces and the unrest in Fars Province both under the aegis of the aggressor governments of Russia and the UK, are but two examples of the aggressive measure taken against Iran by the occupying forces during those years. According to a large body of undeniable documents, evidence and proof, during all the years that Iran was  under occupation, aggressor governments not only paid no attention to Iran's position of impartiality, but also took extensive measures to revive the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 in a bid to disintegrate Iran.

The role played by the UK and the United States in masterminding the coup d’état on August 19, 1953, against the legal government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq, must be considered as another black leaf in the track records of big powers against Iran. The measure helped the survival of the despotic regime of Iran's former monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and led to savage confrontation of the monarchial regime with revolutionary freedom-seeking forces.

The type of actions taken by big powers following the Islamic Revolution only served to worsen the Iranian nation’s pessimism toward big global powers, especially the Western states. This is especially true about the measures they took at such crucial junctures of post-revolution history of Iran as the invasion of Iran by Iraq’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein; the western governments’ support for putschist measures taken in 1999 and 2009; as well as the imposition of unjust and illegal sanctions against Iran.

Now, Iran's nuclear dispute has provided big powers of the world, the United States and the UK in particular, with a historical opportunity, which is sure not to be repeated in the short term. Assuming that the national identity is a fluid and dynamic concept and a large part of it is affected by historical mentality of a nation, the West is now faced with an exceptional opportunity to improve the negative mentality of Iranians toward Western countries. If valued properly, this opportunity can certainly help realize the common interests of Iran and the West, especially with regard to such important issues as fighting against terrorism.

Key Words: Iran's Nuclear Dispute, Historical Opportunity, West, Pessimism, Contemporary Iran, Iran's Constitutional Revolution, World War I, World War II, Military Coup d’état, Mohammad Mosaddeq, Post-Revolution History, Haghgoo

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