Iran, 5+1 and Struggle for Sustainable Recognition

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Behzad Khoshandam
PhD Student in International Relations

Active ImageIdentity-related issues, lack of candor and various approaches taken by big powers to Iran in addition to inattention to the necessary balance between Iran’s international rights and obligations have been among major problems with which the country has had to cope in order to protect its national security during the past 30 years. While Iran is expected to resume nuclear negotiations with 5+1 in early December 2010, a more profound review of major reasons behind ineffectiveness of Iran’s past negotiations with big powers may lead to clues for the success of the forthcoming negotiations.

Although many experts have emphasized on the role of security as the most important component of their national interests, in reality, security dilemma has not been the main source of strategic discrepancy between Iran and such big powers as 5+1 member states in the past few decades, but recognition dilemma has also played an effective part.

The Iranian leaders and political elites maintain that due to domestic legitimacy, security dilemma is no more the most important issue when interacting with the international community, but the most important dilemma faced by Tehran in its interactions with the international system is sustainable international recognition for its rights as well as status and concerns of its people.

From this angle, international recognition of Iran does not mean political recognition at international level, but the main dilemma is recognition of various political, legal, social, cultural and military capacities of Iran in international system as a nation-state enjoying several thousands of cultural and historical background. Therefore, the following instances have been construed as lack of recognition for Iran by big powers during the past three decades:

• Invasion of Iran during the Imposed War with Iraq (1980-1988);

• Iran as a victim of international terrorism (the country has been a regular target for such terrorist groups as Jondollah, Mojahedeen Khalq Organization, and Taliban…);

• Iran’s lack of cooperation with Al Qaeda extremism in Afghanistan;

• Lack of respect for Iran’s nuclear rights as per trilateral Sa'dabad Agreement (2003), Paris Agreement (2005), Geneva negotiations, and tripartite Tehran Declaration (May 2010). This lack of respect has been evident in most resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council as well as reports issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency and is also held up by the content of previous negotiations between Iran and 5+1;

• Inattention to Iran’s positive efforts to shape the new political configuration of the Middle East;

• Necessity of attention to strategic depth, regional goals, and strategic outlooks of Iran within framework of the international system.

Therefore, Iran, like most other international players, has called for sustainable recognition of its various rights at international level during the past three decades. Despite what Karim Sajjadpour’s allegation, Iran’s political system and people are not “sui generis” or one of a kind to be very much different from other international players. Therefore, Stephan Walt’s view that “Iran is a country that is pursuing its own national interests,” seems to be more realistic.

Maximum sustainable international recognition of Iran’s rights, attitudes, norms, beliefs, and identity components at regional and international levels by 5+1 during the forthcoming talks will certainly work to maximize success of both sides. Last but not least, profound attention to the dilemma of sustainable recognition of Iran’s rights in international system will constitute a remarkable model for international management of national security problems of countries like Iran during next decades.