Beyond Geneva

Iran is committed to fair and constructive negotiations within the framework of international regulations. And Teheran is now doubly encouraged to stick to this position after its diplomatic success at Geneva.

For years, the US has spread the story that Teheran is hell-bent on producing its own nuclear weapons, despite the fact that neither the IAEA (the UN's atomic energy watchdog) nor Washington's own intelligence apparatus have ever found a shred of evidence to substantiate the claim. For their part, the Iranians have always maintained that their nuclear programme is concerned only with meeting the nation's energy requirements and medical research.

The interim agreement signed at Geneva certainly puts all kinds of impudent restrictions on how much uranium may be enriched and up to what percentage of enrichment, but signally fails to challenge Teheran's central assertion of the nation's right to enrich its own uranium.

In trying to dress the agreement up as a triumph of US diplomacy, Obama naturally stressed these restrictions. For a period of six months, uranium enrichment is pegged at 5%, and equipment needed to enrich beyond that level is to be dismantled. Undertakings have been given to suspend further enrichment of Iran's 3.5% stockpile, dilute its 20% stockpile, accept certain limits on the use and installation of centrifuges and suspend construction on the Arak nuclear reactor.

By its tacit acknowledgement of Iran's right to enrich uranium, this agreement at a stroke completely vindicates Teheran's principled position maintained over so many years by successive governments. By the same token, the unlawful character of all those punitive UN resolutions now stands exposed in shameful retrospect.

None of these considerations should be taken as minimising the continuing damage being inflicted upon Iran, not least by the continuing cruel and unjust imposition of economic sanctions. Yet whilst the loosening of the economic sanctions imposed upon Iran appears slight, with the $7bn-worth of promised sanctions relief paling beside the $100bn of Iran's still-frozen foreign assets, and whilst the sanctions relating to oil and banking remain intact, even this tentative step backwards on the economic warfare front is fought with peril for the Obama administration. Retreat on the economic front, no less than retreat on the diplomatic or military, can only aggravate the growing contempt and insubordination already on display amongst Washington's allies—especially now it turns out that Washington has been pursuing its own agenda in secret since at least last March!

After its retreat from vainglorious threats of direct military intervention against Syria, Obama’s men in the White House are now eating their words on Iran. Nowhere is the humbling of US hegemonic pretensions clear than in the provisional nuclear deal struck with Iran in Geneva on 23 November, 2013. But in Iran all are not equally optimistic about Geneva talks as Iran’s Supreme Spiritual Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the otherday that the much publicised negotiations would yield nothing.

Vol. 46, No. 34, Mar 2 - 8, 2014