ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal

The nuclear deal between Iran and the Western powers could lead to some major changes in the geopolitics of West Asia. Even though there remains fairly strong domestic opposition to the deal in both camps, the historically important strategic location of Iran makes this deal eminently justifiable for all parties. However, the consequences for India could be mixed, as it neglected strengthening its relations with Iran when the window of opportunity was open the widest.

The recently concluded international agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme is likely to have far-reaching implications for West Asia. The agreement caters for sharp limits on Iran’s nuclear activities, while progressively lifting the multilateral and bilateral sanctions imposed on the country. Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium, but only to a low level that is far below weapons-grade enrichment. It will have to forego most of its enriched uranium besides reducing the number of operational centrifuges and refraining from upgrading the centrifuges. The Arak research reactor will be modified to prevent production of plutonium for a nuclear weapon and technology relating to bomb design will be off limits. Iran’s nuclear activities will also be under a stringent monitoring and verification regime. All in all, the deal seeks to ensure that Iran cannot reach the threshold of nuclear weapons for at least 15 years. Further, the international embargo on arms will remain in place for five years and sanctions on missiles for eight years.

The agreement comes at the end of a long and tortuous process of negotiations. The United States (US) embarked on this road owing to the realisation that its long-standing policy of international isolation, containment and sanctions on Iran was incapable of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. Equally, exercising military options to strike at Iranian nuclear facilities would not only be costly but counterproductive. The Iranians, for their part, made several important concessions from their own stated positions, including on a host of issues that had not been resolved in the interim agreement reached in November 2013.

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