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Extending Iran’s Nuclear Negotiations and the Challenges Ahead

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attend a meeting of the P5+1 (Photo Credit: AP)

“The deal that Iran was pushing for was terrible…this result is better, a lot better.” Said Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Iran and the P5+1 (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) extending the deadline for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program until June 2015. While Netanyahu believes no agreement will prove a victory, the absence of a compromise is not a triumph for the parties involved. When the cost of expediency is a dangerous agreement, patience must be exercised. However, with each extension of the deadline, the prospect for a peaceful resolution becomes increasingly unlikely.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has the most to lose if he cannot fulfil his promise to secure a nuclear energy deal and lift economic sanctions. Facing harsh criticism from Parliament, and more importantly, from Ayatollah Li Khamenei, Rohani must balance the voices of the moderates and extremists. Iran’s nuclear program has become a symbol of national pride amongst the ruling elite. However, the rest of the population most likely does not share the same appreciation for the nuclear program, being more concerned with crippling economic sanctions. As a result of international sanctions, Iran’s oil exports have plummeted, from 2.5 million barrels a day to 1 million. This has led to soaring inflation, lower oil prices and a devaluating currency.

In the U.S. a Republican Senate majority will make it increasingly difficult for Secretary of State John Kerry to lift these sanctions. While I can appreciate the reasoning of the Republican Party, which maintains that Iran will not compromise to make a deal, I believe that it is misguided. Increasing economic sanctions could push Iran to end negotiations, which would be of no benefit to anyone. It is important to remember that international negotiations take time and patience. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between America and the Soviet Union took over a decade before it was signed.

During a time in which much of the Middle East is engulfed in violence, world leaders must reflect on the value of achieving a deal. The potential for cooperation between the West and Iran is beneficial in ending the Syrian war and Sunni terrorism in Iraq. An agreement would decrease the chances of a pre-emptive military strike from Israel. Avoidance of another violent conflict should encourage negotiators to work swiftly.

Malcolm McEachern
Malcolm McEachern recently completed his B.A. in Politics & International Relations at the Royal Holloway University of London. Malcolm studied a wide range of topics, from political theory to South Asian politics, and Post-Cold war defense. Malcolm’s main interests include security studies, refugees, human rights, and international relations theory. Malcolm is in the process of applying for a Masters in International Security. He aspires to work for an international organization that focuses on human rights.