US-Iran Nuclear Talks on Brink of Agreement, Afghanistan Mends Ties
Iran's nuclear programme
NEW DELHI: Several agencies, media outlets and analysis firms have indicated that the US and Iran are discussing a compromise on Iran’s nuclear programme. If true, the compromise could break the deadlock that has come to characterize negotiations between Iran and the P5 + 1 (i.e., the US, Russia, China, UK and France, plus Germany).
The contention has been over Tehran’s refusal to meet the P5’s demands for deep cuts in the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium. Iran is resisting on the grounds that its nuclear programme is peaceful and geared toward generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients, whereas the US-led bloc is concerned about Iran’s intentions to use the process for military/defence.
With the deadline for negotiations fast approaching, the compromise reportedly involves allowing Iran keep much of its uranium-enriching technology but reduce its potential to make nuclear weapons.
While the details are sketchy at best, with a new round of negotiations scheduled for this week, other reports suggest that geopolitical considerations played a role in the compromise. According to Israeli officials, the decision to allow Iran to keep centrifuges is in exchange for maintaining regional stability in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.
The Jerusalem Post reports, “According to EU officials, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have discussed increasing the number of centrifuges which Iran would be permitted to keep. In exchange, the Iranians would undertake an obligation to bring their influence to bear in order to ensure quiet in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.”
The reports come a few weeks after Iran and Afghanistan near the conclusion of a major bilateral strategic cooperation agreement that would see the two expand their trade and transportation links -- thereby increasing Iran’s influence, presence and interest in the South Asian nation. As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met with Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif in Kabul the two countries agreed to focus on “cooperation on issues of counter-terrorism, drugs, refugees, economic links and transit trade.”
The reports also coincide with apparent tensions between the US and Pakistan -- the hitherto strategic ally of the US in the region. As the US and India strengthen ties, many analysts hypothesize that this is at the expense of Pakistan, as the latter’s commitment to battling militancy in the region is repeatedly being questioned.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated the position that Iran was not interested in producing a nuclear bomb, lashing out at the world’s nuclear powers for making the world less safe. “They tell us ‘we don’t want Iran to make atomic bombs’, you who have made atomic bombs,” Rouhani said in Isfahan, a city 400 kilometres south of Tehran. “Have you managed to bring about security for yourselves with atomic bombs? Have you managed to create security for the usurper Israel?” Rouhani said, adding “We don’t need an atomic bomb. We have a great, self-sacrificing and unified nation.”