Expert: Iran nuclear deal major breakthrough for diplomacy

July 20, 2015

TEHRAN - Well over a decade of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – have reached a conclusion.

The agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was finally nailed down on July 14 in the Austrian capital of Vienna, where negotiators from Iran and the six other countries spent 18 days of marathon talks to work out the remaining technical and political issues.

Freelance reporter Hamid Bayati has conducted the following interview on the Iran nuclear deal with Executive Director at Arms Control Association Daryl G. Kimball.

Q: How do you evaluate the deal?  Does it cover the all the parties interests?
A: This is an incredibly complex and very consequential diplomatic achievement for Iran and the international community. It is a major breakthrough for nuclear nonproliferation and is clearly in the interest of both the United States, its allies and partners in the Middle East, the international community and Iran.
When implemented, the P5+1 and Iran agreement will establish long-term, verifiable restrictions on Iran's sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities, many of these restrictions will last for 10 years, some for 15 years, and some for 25 years. Iran’s plutonium path to the bomb will be eliminated, its potential to “breakout” and amass enough bomb-grade uranium for one bomb will be expanded to at least 12 months.
Just as importantly, the agreement will put in place a layered monitoring regime, which will include very robust International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections under Iran's additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement, giving international inspectors access to the any Iranian facility of proliferation concern including military sites, and also as the modified code 3.1 safeguards that require early notification of design changes or new nuclear project by Iran. These provisions will last indefinitely to help detect and deter any future nuclear weapons related efforts.
The sanctions relief that Iran will receive in return as it meets its key nuclear restrictions and nonproliferation commitments also serves as an incentive for Tehran to follow through on its obligations in the long term. The government of Iran should use the economic benefits to advance the welfare and health of its people rather than spend it on the weapons of war.
Q: The Iranian foreign minister calls the nuclear deal a 'win-win solution' and 'new chapter of hope.' Do you agree with this view?
A: Yes it is clearly a win-win and Dr. Zarif — and the other foreign ministers — deserve tremendous credit for navigating a very difficult diplomatic maze to achieve this outcome. It opens the way to new possibilities for Iran, its people and the region. There is work to be done to implement the deal. 
Q: Will this deal lead to more cooperation between Iran and the West especially the U.S. in regional and international issues?
A: There will continue to be problems between Iran and the West that must be overcome, including disagreements over human rights, how to address the sectarian conflicts in the region such as the war in Syria, and other issues. But this deal may open up new avenues for cooperation on issues of common concern and create better understanding between the people of Iran and the United States. With the nuclear issue settled for now, I hope the two governments will put aside their past differences and start discussing how they can work together to tackle their common problems.
Q: How do you think the U.S. Congress especially the Republicans will react to the Vienna deal?
A: There will be a strong and negative reaction from some quarters of Congress in the coming weeks and months because they would like to have seen a better deal, some would prefer no deal, and some simply cannot contemplate an agreement with a country with which we have had such a troubled history. Some will oppose it because they dislike President Barack Obama. Neither side got everything they wanted, but each compromised enough to get to “yes” and still achieve their core goals and national objectives. That is how diplomacy works. Many members of our Congress, just like hardliners in every country, don’t understand this.
However, upon examination of the details of this agreement and consideration of the unpleasant alternatives, there will be a sufficient number who lend their support and allow for the implementation of the P5+1 and Iran nuclear deal.
Q: Will this deal have any effect on the U.S. presidential election or will it help the Democrats in the upcoming polls?
A: This will boost President Obama’s standing with the American people. How it affects the presidential election is yet to be determined. Whoever is elected will recognize that the agreement is in the U.S. national security interest and “walking away” would bring very negative consequences for the United States and international security.
Q: What do you think Israel’s next approach will be toward Iran after the nuclear deal?
A: The view of the Prime Minister of Israel and Israel security establishment about this deal differ. Benjamin Netanyahu will do all he can to speak out against the deal, but for many serious leaders in Israel, they recognize this agreement successfully addresses one of their main security fears and they will, over time, come to embrace and appreciate it. In the long run, it is vital that the Middle Eastern states engage with each other to resolve longstanding security and political arguments for the good of all. If anything, the P5+1 and Iran nuclear deal shows that it is possible and useful to engage in dialogue with adversaries in order to find ways to coexist in peace.

HB/OSN