A year ago, on July 14, 2015, the P5+1 agreed with Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It was a compromise outlining principles and stages for achieving a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue in order to decrease tensions that had been mounting for years.
The global community recognized that Tehran had a legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and promised to lift international sanctions in exchange for a substantial reduction in Iran’s nuclear activity with specific deadlines and more intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. If Iran fully delivers on its commitments under the deal, it could be entitled, in the future, to develop a peaceful nuclear program without any restrictions as a full member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Although the deal resulted from many years of intense negotiations involving the six countries and Iran, it was made possible primarily by the pragmatism and common sense of the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Vienna agreement prevented the Iranian nuclear issue from growing into another regional conflict in an otherwise restive Middle East and helped strengthen the nonproliferation regime.
This past year has shown that the parties to the agreement are responsible and committed to fulfilling their obligations.
The IAEA said Tehran cooperated proactively by voluntarily implementing the Additional Protocol to the IAEA safeguards agreement.
Russia is working with Iran on practical issues related to converting the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant into a production facility for heavy isotopes that will be used for medical purposes.
Russia and Iran are taking practical steps in another area related to implementing the joint comprehensive plan. They are working bilaterally on removing excessive stockpiles of low-enriched uranium from Iran in exchange for deliveries of natural uranium.
All international sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program have been lifted, which makes it possible for Tehran to step up trade and economic cooperation with the international community, import technology and innovation, attract foreign investment, and increase hydrocarbon production and exports. There is no doubt that this will enhance political and economic stability in the region.
That said, the prospects for successfully implementing the joint agreement will depend to a large extent on the willingness of the U.S. and Iran to further honor their commitments.
It is no secret that mutual distrust and suspicion are still strong between the two countries. The constructive and bold steps by the Obama administration and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to hammer out the nuclear deal did not dispel the serious problems in the relations between the two countries and the major differences in their worldviews.
Just as the conservative wing of the U.S. establishment, mostly Republican, that constantly calls for a review of the Vienna agreements and for tightening the requirements regarding implementation of the joint comprehensive plan by Tehran, Iranian conservatives and radicals warn of a possible withdrawal from the deal if Washington fails to abide by its terms and imposes new sanctions on Iran.
By stepping up political rhetoric and propaganda against each other, Washington and Tehran could destroy the favorable atmosphere in which the agreement has existed so far. In fact, if the next U.S. administration moves toward reviewing the plan to impose stricter requirements, this will certainly lead to a sharp response by Tehran, as has already been the case during the tense negotiation process.
From a pragmatic standpoint, neither Washington nor Tehran is interested in the failure of the nuclear agreement. Iran desperately needs to bolster its social and economic development by fulfilling its immense potential and to have a more stable domestic political landscape, and the lifting of sanctions creates a favorable atmosphere for doing just that. Washington, it must be assumed, does not need another escalation in the Middle East that would result from Iran’s withdrawal from the Vienna deal and may lead to unpredictable consequences.
For this reason, all parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action should calmly implement the existing agreements, step by step, without whipping up alarmist hysteria and by discussing and resolving the issues that could arise within the Joint Commission that has been established to deal with contentious questions.
In addition, it is important not to add elements that are not directly related to the agreement.
Russia attaches great importance to the implementation of the Plan of Action. At all stages of the Geneva talks, Russia was eager to find solutions to the issues and is now prepared to fulfill its obligations in good faith by facilitating the implementation of the deal in a comprehensive manner.
The deal resulted from a compromise, but it remains the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue and helps diffuse tensions in the conflict-ridden Middle East, offering opportunities for mobilizing joint efforts to fight international terrorism and extremism, which should be the key aim for the international community.
• Alexander Maryasov is ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary. He served as Russia’s ambassador to Iran from 2001 to 2005.
The US-Russia Crosstalk is a joint initiative of the Kommersant newspaper and Valdai Club in Russia and The Washington Times and Center for National Interest in the United States aimed at fostering a dialog on strategic engagement between the two countries.
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