For months now, the government in Tehran has been ratcheting up its enrichment of uranium, gradually increasing the percentage of fissile material using a battery of centrifuges and other complex technologies. But the process is not a long-term science experiment in physics, but rather driven by a political overview determined to drive on with Iran’s long-stated goal of achieving nuclear capabilities.
Now, after months of fragile negotiations on highly technical details with the international regulatory authorities, Iran has agreed to provide documents that will help resolve a contentious investigation into its nuclear programme.
Ending the impasse effectively paves the way for a broader agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, and while there are undoubtedly obstacles that need to be cleared, the door now seems to be open on Iran returning to international markets under normal conditions, and for its oil to be again traded on global markets within a six-month time frame.
The tentative agreement was announced in Tehran between the Director General of
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, and Mohammad Eslami, the head of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Peaceful and economic purposes
Certainly, any agreement that realistically ensures that Tehran’s nuclear programme can be verified and used exclusively for peaceful and economic purposes is to be welcomed.
But here among the nations of the wider Middle East and along the Gulf Cooperation Council nations of this side of the Arabian Gulf, there is the memory that at the same time as the regime was signing a 2015 international nuclear agreement, it was also funding and supporting its proxy forces from the Mediterranean to the Bab Al Mandab.
It is one thing to commit to an international agreement, another to commit arms and weapons, logistical, technical and ballistic support to Iran-sponsored militias who have aided death and destruction in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
We would like to believe that Iran will once more act in good faith and demonstrate that its rules can act responsibly in adopting the normal course of expectations and actions as a member of the international community. But there is a reality too that we have been at this point before.
The regime in Tehran should know that if it is indeed sincere, it will find accommodating neighbours willing to move forward building peace, prosperity and stability.
An immediate end to support for all of its proxies would be a positive gesture that things have indeed changed. Right now, though, we remain sceptical. But hopeful.