Iran agreed to concessions regarding its nuclear program as part of an agreement which was reached Sunday in Geneva. The world, and Israel in particular, has been on edge for quite some time now due to the continuing Iranian efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. Just days ago, during a high-stakes game of international politics, a deal was struck that officials claim will slow the Iranian nuclear program. Although Iran has engaged in recent nuclear negotiations, certain parties view the results as moving the world further down the road to Armageddon.
Iran has been pursuing nuclear capability since back in the 1950s. Ironically, in the 50s the Iranian nuclear program was begun with the blessing and assistance of the United States under a program known as Atoms for Peace. The program title, named after a speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower, echoes Orwellian style classifications such as “war is peace.” The nuclear program within Iran received US and European support up until the revolution in the late 70s.
After the revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini ended up dismantling a secret nuclear research program and he proceeded to denounce the possession and use of such weapons.
In the time since Khomeini and the revolution, the weapons program was touch and go until receiving key support from the Russians. As a result of Russian assistance, Iran completed its first nuclear power plant, which it opened in September of 2011. Since this time, the world has been on edge as the country has progressed in its pursuit of attaining nuclear capability. Israel especially has been in an ever heightening state of alert with regard to the nuclear aspirations of Iran, a country which openly calls for the destruction of the Jewish nation.
Since July of 2006 the UN has repeatedly demanded that Iran halt its enrichment of Uranium, and suspend all activity aimed at attaining nuclear weapons. These calls appear, in the wake of recent events, to have been ineffective as Iran has ruthlessly pursued its nuclear aspirations.
The implementation of sanctions begun in 2006 with UN Security Council Resolution 1737 which banned the supply of nuclear-related technology and material to Iran. In addition, the resolution froze the assets of companies and key individuals who were involved with assisting in the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran has steadily marched forward in its weapons program, even in the wake of increasing sanctions throughout the years. The sanctions, which have increased in scope and measure, began to take effect over the past two to three years. The sanctions increased from the initial banned supply of nuclear materials to include and arms embargo, additional asset freezes, travel bans, oil embargoes and more.
In addition to the UN-mandated sanctions imposed by the Security Council Resolutions, the EU has also imposed some policies which set limits on economic interaction with Iran. Foreign trade, along with the tech and energy sectors of Iran have been affected as a result of the EU action.
Iran has been able to weather the international storm of sanctions through the years thanks to nations which have stood in violation of the sanctions. India, China and Venezuela have been among a few of the nations which have for different reasons come to provide vital economic sustenance to Iran over the years. India and China, for example, due to their demand for foreign oil, have been inclined to continue to purchase Iranian oil in violation of international attempts to curb Iran’s oil exports. Venezuela’s Chavez has also assisted throughout the years in providing nuclear materials to Iran in the face of sanctions aimed at prohibiting such action.
Despite global efforts, and stern warnings by Israel, Iran has continued to pursue its nuclear ends. Israel has continued throughout the years to make known its absolute unwillingness to allow Iran to attain full nuclear capability. This position adds to the already precarious situation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a UN speech last year, called attention to what he characterized as a grave and dangerous situation requiring global intervention. He restated Israel’s concerns, implying that nuclear negotiations involving compromise can only lead the world down the road to Armageddon. He suggested that Iran is not the same as Cold War Russia, and that the only solution would be the drawing of “clear red lines” concerning Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, Netanyahu highlighted that no clear lines have been drawn to express to Iran a point which it must not cross with its nuclear program.
The last two months have seen intense negotiations by the P5+1 and Iran regarding the nations nuclear aspirations and attempting to find points of compromise which might be able to diffuse a rapidly accelerating situation. Towards the end of 2011, Secretary of State John Kerry underwent a quiet and unannounced trip to Oman in an effort to break the ice regarding a nuclear agreement with Iran. The deal struck in Geneva over the weekend appears to be the culmination of Kerry’s efforts. The Obama administration is touting the agreement a historic achievement in the arena of foreign policy, but it still needs to defend its progress in Washington.
In the wake of the agreement, Senate has made some noise suggesting that it is considering additional sanctions in response to the recent events. Obama’s response will be to try and convince Washington to avoid additional sanctions against Iran, claiming that such action will undermine progress and poison the negotiations. Israel’s Netanyahu has expressed a very different reaction to the outcome of the meetings in Geneva, calling the agreement a “historic mistake.”
It is clear that the attempt by the US to walk the negotiating tight-rope is continuing to strain the already precarious US-Israeli relations. The Obama administration continues to suggest that its actions are in the best interests of the US, Iran and Israel. Netanyahu has made clear that Israel will not continue to stand by if nothing is done to curb Iran’s program, and suggested it is his duty as leader of the Jewish nation to take action if necessary.
Iran appears to have contradicted its historical position by agreeing to halt its program and engage in negotiations. Whether it honors this position remains to be seen. At present, Iran and the nuclear negotiations appear to slow the world’s march down the road to Armageddon. Time will tell whether it is peace or war that awaits in the future.
By Daniel Worku