By Jagannath Rutwik:
Wondering what’s wrong with Iran and why people talk about it every day? Well, as you might’ve known, it’s got something to do with nuclear weapons and you guessed it right, America. And here’s an account on Iran about its past, present and the future.
What’s Iran’s Story?
Since a long time, Iran was a regional power with the shah at the helm. When Nationalisation of oil reserves in Iran gained currency among its population sometime during 1949, the shah eventually yielded to the populist opinion. He also had to appoint Dr. Mohammed Mosaddeq, a staunch advocate of the policy that brought the shah onto his knees, as his Prime Minister. However, he ostensibly tended towards an autocracy subsequently. The United States, as always, viewed his intentions through the lens of Communism and stuff. Eventually, the CIA carried on a coup in 1953 and at last, the power was once again concentrated in the hands of the shah, a mouthpiece of the West, whose iron fist was unchallenged for 26 more years.
The political instability and the economic fatigue as a result of poor policies of the shah for decades set the stage for the 1979 revolution and a generation of anti-American hatred in one of the Central Asian powers. The revolution sought a power shift and a change in the political system. And then happened the one incident that literally shook America, The Hostage Crisis. Politically conscious Iranians always knew that America had done something reprehensible by sticking its nose in the internal affairs of Iran back in 1953. But again, America had rubbed salt into wound by offering political asylum for the shah, who was forced out of power during the revolution. This time around, the Iranian Islamic Students stormed the US embassy taking 66 people, the majority of them Americans, as hostages. 14 were released within a month but the crisis lasted for 444 days.
Here Comes The Nuclear Regime
These days, Iran is being blamed for carrying out research on building nuclear weapons, which if it succeeds in, the US fears, poses a threat to the peace (puns unintended) in the region. The most intriguing fact is that the so-called Iran’s notorious Nuclear Program was itself started under the aegis of the USA way back in the 50’s. I do not want to soak you in details, but the program was originally intended to establish nuclear power industry in Iran, which progressed until the ’79 revolution and even later, with the help of the USSR. In fact, by the time the revolution broke out, Iran was a joint owner of a French nuclear company. When Iran finally emancipated itself from the shah’s rule and had its own democratic apparatus in place, restoring its sovereignty and independence across the range of the decisions it made, the West invariably despised Iran and the latter gradually suspended its cooperation to the former. By the time the help was terminated, Iran was left with a couple of insanely expensive Half-Constructed nuclear reactors. At last, when IAEA agreed to assist Iran in finishing the project, the proposal was withdrawn, thanks to pressure from the USA. China also backed down from helping Iran for the same reason.
Iran, however, did not give up. It feverishly pursued its nuclear aspirations which were further fostered by its nationalist leader, Ahmadinejad. Calmly, as Iran’s research started, it was increasingly viewed with suspicion. Iran was blamed of leaning towards a secret nuclear weapon programme that was unearthed by the IAEA. Iran maintains that it was the US that was responsible for prodding Iran into secrecy over the whole issue until today. America and its allies were threatening and punishing Iran all along. There were a series of negotiations that took place throughout the past two decades but Iran cut through with its own plans, notwithstanding the staggering pressure placed on it by the West through sanctions, until last month.
The Recent Iran-P5+1 Deal
At last, an agreement was reached by P5+1(the members of United Nations Security Council + Germany) and Iran. A theory that is widely subscribed to among sections in the international community is that the extreme intransigence exhibited by the Iranian government over the time made the West restless to reach some agreement and when the positions of the West and Iran today are compared, it was the West that finally gave in but not Iran, it postulates. Now that there is a deal that was struck up in Oman or Geneva or wherever, it’s time we analyse the ramifications of the deal and Indian interests in the same.
Overseeing the numbers, Iran’s commitments could beÂ summarized, more or less, as follows:
It would dilute half of its 20% enriched Uranium to less than or equal to 5%. It also accepted to a term that limits Iran not to enrich any new Uranium samples upwards 5%. It accepted to allow the IAEA officials to conduct inspections and would provide a detailed report on some of its facilities in less than three months. It accepted to shut down some of its ‘shady’ facilities.
On the other hand here are the P5+1 commitments:
To cease the efforts to hurt Iran’s economy further; to give back Iran some agreed amount that is held abroad, to lift the sanctions on petrochemicals, precious metals & gold and no new sanctions will be imposed.
However, when the conditions that were offered by P5+1 are analysed, they look faulty in the light of a fact that Iran is a signatory of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which guarantees Iran the right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes (I.e. the reactors for power generation and medical purposes). And the limit 5% would be a highly unrealistic target as some basic physics tells us that enrichment up to a certain limit is necessary before it could be used for any peaceful nuclear purposes.
What’s in it for India?
As is already known, India-Iran relations date back to thousands of years. But of late, there’s little to be discussed in this respect, other than economics. Again, the numbers and trends are not drawn out. But India always depended on Iran for a good share of its oil needs. Although India denies recognizing the sanctions put on Iran by the West, they nevertheless severely impacted our trade. This reflects in our downward trend of the oil imports. From now on, India should act quickly and reach out to Iran for, pardon me, reaping as many benefits as possible. As many Indian refineries are designed for Iranian oil, the prices of oil could come down significantly. In addition, India could push further its strategic partnership with Iran (Chabahar port, for instance) and Afghanistan-2014 makes ‘free Iran’, a glowing prospect.
The Closing Remarks:
Finally, the present deal should not be the only deal that’s been reached, as many fear. To address this, I believe, the US ought not to shy away from accepting the fact that Iran, undeniably, is a power to reckon with in the region and that any activity the US undertakes in the region must involve Iran regardless of its perception on the former. For starters, the US should invite Iran to take part in the Geneva-2 (the Syrian deal, continued). It just doesn’t matter if the US called Iran an ‘Axis of Evil’. The bottom-line is that the West should first embark on confidence-building and goodwill measures, because the populist opinion in Iran remains against the West- which if not addressed properly, makes all the efforts being made otiose.