Eric Hobsbawm once said that it is both interesting and difficult to write the history of the era you lived through. It is indeed both interesting and difficult the write about the historical moment that we lived through in our life time, events we witnessed, or we see with mere eyes, the events we reads, and followed daily bases . We need time and appreciation to tease out how, why and to what extend some events are historically important and some are not. I think, we have witnessed one of those historical moment on July 14, 2015, which is declared as a historic moment both by EU chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian counterparts Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. After decades long disagreement, Iran and P5+1 (Five United Nations Security Council members, the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) has finally reached an agreement to solve Iranian nuclear crisis, which is called as The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Yet the deal has more than just a deal on nuclear issue having numbers of consecutive effects on the regional and global security architecture. Here today, I will dwell more on some of them.
According to Obama administration, the deal is exclusively on only one issue, namely preventing Iran getting the bomb. That sounds good but it is not a fact since the fallout effects of the deal on regional security architecture and balance of power has not envisaged by the Obama administration. (this is kind of habitual behavior of the US, remember they did not envisaged the war’s second-order and corollary effects in Iraq or Afghanistan), The only problem of the deal is not just lack of thinking of second order effects of the deal, but also the deal is not something good for anyone except Iran. The way in which JCPOA put forward to the issue is nothing more than putting a time limit on Iran’s break out capacity. That is the deal does not prevent Iran getting bomb, what it does is prevent Iran from getting bomb immediately by securing Iran’s capability to get the bomb if it needs that in short amount of time. We can see that from the agreements substance, which only slow Iran’s “breakout time”—the time needed to produce enough weapons-grade fissile material for one bomb—from an estimated 2 to 3 months to at least a year (in best case scenario). Arguably Iran has four pathways to nuclear weapons: two uranium paths through its Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities, where thousands of centrifuges separate uranium isotopes; a plutonium path that involves the Arak heavy water reactor; and a covert path involving hidden facilities. The deal is indeed blocking all of these pathways, but without shuttering a single nuclear facility and enrichment capacity. In this sense, the deal agrees and legitimizes Iran as a “threshold nuclear power” that has the ability to build a nuclear weapons in a short amount of time. Over all this means that the deal leave Iran with an enhanced ability to enrich uranium — an ability that can lead Iran to nuclear weapons production in a relatively short time.
Other problems with the deal are not less grave than the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons. The deal has pave the way for more assertive Iran foreign policy in the region, which has already been disruptive through asymmetric means and tools such as backing terrorists, non-state actors, repressive regimes with blood and treasures. What deal does is to fuel conflicts in the region by allowing Iran take advantage of the sanctions-relief to create an economy of scale to dominate the region, alienate other regional countries by intensifying its disruptive activities. Do not forget, Iran has huge capacity in terms of science and technology, cultural advantages, and economic power to follow its sectarian and dangerous game in the region.
This reiteration does not mean that other regional countries are innocent when it comes to daily violence, genocidial acts, tortures.. Yet, as the US itself has potent reasons to fear about China’s rise and take necessary steps to contain it, the Gulf countries, Turkey and Israel have much more potent reasons to be suspicious about this dangerous prospect and take necessary steps against it. However, at the end of the day, as other regional countries, in particular Saudi Arabia, push hard for containing Iran’s revisionism, the dangerous escalations of conflicts is inevitable where already orderless is the fact of the day. What the deal is just fueling this fact on the ground.