Politicization of Iran’s Nuclear Program

The latest deadline for Iran nuclear deal negotiations has passed. Iran and the world powers involved in the meetings have once again failed to reach an agreement and conclude the negotiations that have been going on for nearly 12 years. Distrust and political interests have made it very difficult for the negotiations to end with a solution that satisfies the opposing parties.

This was the second missed deadline since the breakthrough last April. The deadline was previously set on June 30, later extended to July 10, and, after this limit was exceeded the end of last week, it is not clear when the next one is going to be. Exceeding two deadlines sent a signal to the world that the breakthrough in April may be in vain and that it is possible the negotiations will drag on even longer without any certainty that a final agreement will be reached.

The difficulty of reaching an agreement and the issue of Iran’s nuclear program seem to be due to factors that are political, rather than nuclear-related, in nature. The fact that an agreement wasn’t reached is not surprising. The two opposing camps, Iran and the United States, found it very difficult to agree on the various items being negotiated. This is despite the fact that the other countries involved in the negotiations, the P5+1 group comprised of the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany, have expressed their optimism that a final agreement would soon be reached.

The U.S., influenced by the Israel lobby, is trying to prevent a nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 from coming into effect without strict obligations with which Iran must comply. Indeed, the U.S. and Israel deeply distrust Iran and accused Tehran of making insincere promises when it consented to the nuclear deal. In the deal reached in April, Iran agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections and place its inspectors in suspected Iranian nuclear facilities. Iran was also willing to reduce their uranium enrichment activities, which the P5+1 suspected could be used to produce atomic weapons.

Apart from the U.S., the P5+1 nations commended Iran’s action. Washington, in line and in tune with Israel, did not see Iran’s willingness to compromise as an indication that a deal was imminent. Instead, it claimed that the move was Iran’s scheme to free itself from international sanctions while continuing to develop its nuclear program. With such misgivings, it is no wonder that Israel strongly opposed the deal last April, calling it a “setback” instead of “progress.”

The U.S. kept demanding that Iran put an end to its nuclear activities and allow inspections of not only their nuclear facilities, but also of their military installations, a demand Iran firmly rejected. Tehran considered this request far-fetched and beyond the issue at hand. Iran claimed that the demand was a political ploy by the U.S. made under the influence of Israel, the principal enemy of Iran.

Perhaps political factors play a bigger role in U.S. policy. If so, the same can be said of Iran. In Iran, both the government and the public view this issue not only as a nuclear issue but also as a political one. For Iran, its nuclear program is its right as a sovereign nation and foreign intervention on this issue is tantamount to an interference into its sovereignty. Most Iranians support the nuclear program, not necessarily because they agree with their government’s effort to build nuclear facilities, but rather because of their “indignation” over U.S. interference.

With such powerful political factors at play, it can be ascertained that a final agreement acceptable to all parties is going to be difficult to achieve. So easily can a deal be undone because of superficial issues and nonsensical suspicions. As long as political factors continue to be emphasized, an Iran nuclear deal will never be realized.

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