The deal concluded in Geneva between the P5+1 is a watershed agreement. After decades of Iran’s acting in full contradiction and opposition to the rest of the world in developing nuclear military capacity, it was forced to begin to negotiate its policies with the world leading powers, due to economic sanctions. It is a small but a significant step.
The United States and its partners had made clear to Iran that the development of nuclear arms, together with its fanatic fundamentalist ideology, bears a very high economic price.
If Iran wants to run any sort of economic ties with the world, it must obey the rules of the international community as to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Iranian people were the first to suffer from the consequences of the ayatollah regime policies and the first to understand the need for change. Hence, the election of a more pragmatic Rouhani.
Iran agrees now to curb its nuclear program and have it inspected on a daily basis in an agreement with none other than the United States, the so-called “big Satan.”
Only a change in American-Iranian relations can bring about more fundamental change in Iran’s nuclear policies.
Barack Obama came to the table with stick and carrot, understanding that a good agreement is one in which both sides can claim achievements. On the background of international sanctions, a win-win equation is a condition to achieve a comprehensive deal on the complete halt of the Iranian military nuclear program.
There are those, like Binyamin Netanyahu and his “Tea Party” friends in the Likud and in the Republican Party, who wanted to see a defeated and humiliated Iran, surrendering to the international community, be it through the battlefield or through the negotiation table. Such perspectives and policies are unrealistic and self-defeating.
Netanyahu, as well as most Republicans, would probably not stop short of Iran’s becoming a Jeffersonian democracy or “lovers of Zion.” Well, Iran is Iran with Muslim Shia fundamentalism and, as such, the transition to more peaceful policies can only be gradual and achieved through skillful negotiations.
Attempting to crush Iran would probably result in regional war. As Obama said, “This is a time for diplomacy.”
As for Israel, our current policies on the matter, including the interference in American domestic politics, undermine our most important strategic relationship with the United States. Such an erosion is more dangerous than anything that Iran can threaten us with. According to all our defense establishment, Obama has done more for Israel’s security than any of his predecessors.
As a true friend of Israel, Obama, who sees in Israel’s security a top American priority, he and his administration have helped to keep our qualitative technological edge through the supply of arms and technology, as well as our strategic deterrence; Syria is being disarmed from chemical weapons, America’s veto secures our interests in the Security Council, our economy thrives on American assistance and cooperation. And despite it all, our prime minister decides to go on a collision course in relation to America’s security policies in the Middle East. He is giving short-sightedness and chutzpah a bad name.
The prime minister did not want any agreement, just sanctions and surrender, or preferably American military action. What we were unable to do with regard to Lebanon and Gaza – disarm fundamentalists – he wanted Americans to do with Iran. They may achieve it, but through diplomacy and negotiations. Anyway, nothing short of Ayatollah Khamenei’s becoming the chief rabbi of Tehran would have satisfied Netanyahu’s messianic mission on Iran.
An agreement was necessary. America and the P5+1 conducted creative and forceful collective diplomacy together with a secret back channel between the United States and Iran.
The results so far hold good potential.
The next six months needed for a permanent agreement will not allow for a situation in which the Iranians use the talks as a smoke screen to develop their nuclear option. The agreements have created the most concrete arrangement for curbing the nuclear program, as well as the greatest transparency so far. Tehran will find it harder than before to get away with cheating the international community.
The limited and reversible lifting of sanctions was also necessary for the Iranian people, who understand due to the agreement the equation ”less nuclear, more economy.” Even totalitarian Iran has to listen to its young constituents.
Agreements are only a part of a process of change; relationship between countries matters no less. Iran begins to understand that being a pariah state will lead it nowhere. The Iranian foreign minister in the midst of the P5+1 is a sign of a necessary and slow rapprochement to the West. Tehran now understands that the shots are called in Washington.
The agreement also reflects a new form of collective diplomacy in the world, replacing the paralyzed Security Council. The six power coordination is the result of much dialogue and diplomatic work, mainly among Washington, Moscow and Beijing.
This better international coordination will serve other conflict resolution processes, as well as the need to stop the proliferation of non-conventional weapons, such as with Syria. Sooner or later, this forum may also deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution if we don’t get our act together before. International stability, security and peace are better served today due to inter-power coordination, very much led by Obama diplomacy.
Diplomatic agreements are never perfect, as they are compromises; but they can set off constructive processes for peace and security. Hence, the importance of the implementation of the Geneva Agreement and the follow- up negotiations to a permanent deal within the same forum and constructive attitudes to ensure a non-military nuclear Iran.
Obama and Kerry have a good chance in the coming months of bringing about a Syria without chemical weapons and an Iran without nuclear ones. As for Israel, we have to adapt ourselves to a new international diplomacy, rescue our all-important relationship with Washington and, for once, also learn to say “Thank you, America.”
The writer is the president of the Peres Center for Peace and served as Israel’s chief negotiator for the Oslo Accords.