30 January 2015 | By ptadmin |
fter several rounds of negotiations, the final agreement on Tehran's controversial nuclear program, which was supposed to be reached in November 2014, has been postponed for another eight months. Talks carry on, and the international community still expects a positive outcome.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif twice last week, and staff-level talks have resumed under a March 1 deadline. US President Barack Obama threatened to veto any congressional decisions to lay more sanctions on Iran during the talks at a press conference on Friday, an attempt to make sure the negotiation goes smoothly.
It's hard to anticipate whether Iran and the six world powers will come to terms eventually, but we can be certain that Iran's nuclear issues won't be resolved for good by one simple agreement. However, at least all parties have agreed on a diplomatic solution.
The odds of reaching a final agreement are still favorable because since the talks resumed in July 2013, the positive political environment has not receded, and there have even been new favorable factors.
Obama is eager to put the nuclear agreement on his list of diplomatic legacies, and the landmark rapprochement with Cuba has already sent a signal to the international community that the Obama administration is shifting its foreign policy to a more conciliatory approach.
In the meantime, Tehran is keen to escape the pressure caused by persistent economic sanctions.
What's more, given the fact that the threat of the Islamic State continues to haunt the region, and Iran is potentially able to counter its rise, Washington doesn't want the nuclear negotiations to end up proving futile.
Although divergences still exist, the current phase of negotiations has seen Iran and the six powers retaining enough patience and narrowing down disagreements, especially over technical details.
But it must be noted that even though bargains can be concluded in many terms, the West will not easily let down their wariness of Iran's capabilities as a near-nuclear state. They, especially Washington, will remain skeptical about Iran's stated intent of taking advantage of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. More than three decades of enmity between the U.S. and Iran make it difficult to turn a short period of détente into a long-lasting cordial relationship in the short term.
Both Obama and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani also face restraints from conservative political forces at home and interventions by outside forces like Saudi Arabia and Israel.
And the agreement, even if realized, will probably need more efforts to be put into practice. The vulnerable agreement could fall victim to the political infighting within both the US and Iran. Any trouble could lead years of efforts to a bitter end.
Thus, the international community should hold a warily optimistic attitude toward the nuclear negotiations. Raising expectations too high will only end up with disappointment as the thaw in US-Iran antagonism has just begun.
The author is a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University (SISU).