Monday, August 24, 2015


For months, the eyes of the world were fixed on Vienna…and the issue at stake was the Iranian nuclear deal and negotiations with the P5+1. Being a diplomat myself and a concerned global citizen, it was only natural that my interest and curiosity was aroused. The issue of the deal is definitely a very sensitive one, laden with so many misunderstandings and misconceptions. To give a little background on the players, Iran is a Middle Eastern Persian theocracy governed by a handful of mullahs, led by the Ayatollah Khamenei. Since 1979, Iran and the United States have not had meaningful diplomatic relations, due to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the Iranian Revolution (remembering the American embassy siege that ultimately contributed to the defeat of Jimmy Carter). Since then, countless sanctions have been imposed on the regime which overtime, have led to the crippling of the Iranian economy.
Iran has always sought nuclear technology; and it has done little to dispel doubts in certain quarters that its quest for nuclear power poses grave dangers for the world. And one of the many antagonists of this nuclear deal is Israel, the tiny, sole democratic nation in the Middle East. Even though Israel was not a party to the talks, it has certainly been a major player behind the scenes (and even out front), as its interest is clearly at stake…and rightly so. Israel has repeatedly stated that its national security is at stake and that the deal is a very bad one! And for a nation that is constantly being vilified and attacked, I can understand Israel’s plight. Russia on the other hand, is a player that stands to gain economically- together with China- from the lifting of sanctions and especially of the weapons ban on the Iranian regime. And its stance all through the negotiations certainly reflected this. Germany, France and the UK are staunch allies of the US, and would usually always vote in tandem with them. So this begs the question, what is the deal about? Well, the answer varies depending on whom you ask, but it is supposedly a deal to curb and roll- back Iran’s nuclear capabilities over a 10- 15 year period, as sanctions are lifted due to compliance. To summarize, it aims to do the following:
1. Reduce Iran’s 19,000 centrifuges (10,000 of which are still spinning today) to 6,104, with only 5,000 allowed to enrich uranium over the next 10years.
2. Iran’s centrifuges will only be allowed to enrich uranium to 3.67%, enough for only civilian purposes, over the next 15years.
3. Extend break- out time from 2-3 months to 1year. Note that Research and Development on nuclear enrichment would continue, but would be limited to keep break- out time within one year, and Iran still gets to maintain its current nuclear facilities.
4. Iran would be required to grant access to IAEA inspectors at all facilities, including its military site at Parchin.
5. After the IAEA verifies that Iran has taken the key steps, the US and EU would then lift sanctions on the Iranian economy. If there are violations, sanctions would be rolled back.
Now at face value this all sound so lovely, but closer inspection reveals many problems. To start off, in my opinion, the US did not go into the negotiations from a position of strength which is quite disturbing because Iran is the one with a lot to lose or gain! Intelligence reports have overtime shown that Iran is a major exporter and supporter of terrorism in the Middle East and this has only gotten worse, as Iran seeks to gain dominance in the region. Added to this, Iran’s hostile antics in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should convince any observer of Iran’s true nature. Keeping this in mind, they ought to be dealt with, with cautious pessimism. Nowhere during the course of the talks, was Iran brought to book on this issue of state- sponsored terrorism, even as 4 American citizens are still being held in Iranian jails, under false charges. For a nation that chants “death to Israel and to the USA”, the almost child-like faith -exhibited by the US negotiators led by John Kerry and under the directions of President Obama- in the “supposed” good will of the Iranians, is highly alarming! To be clear, no part of the terms requires Iran to denounce its sponsorship of terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist, or even firmly ascertain that the so-called inspectors will have complete and unfettered access to nuclear facilities, whenever they so choose (let us not forget that closer investigations revealed that Iran and the IAEA have cut something of a backyard deal and that Iran was only recently accused of making changes to one of its nuclear sites, in an attempt to cover up its activities). By the way, Iran would be given a 24day notification period before (any) inspections take place. May I ask, just who would be able to accurately verify what happens during this time frame? Also, Iran gets to provide it's own soil sample from suspected sites! Are you kidding me? This is no way to check Iran...this is a pathway to a bomb! In reality, what this deal actually does is to push billions of dollars into the purse of the Iranian regime- billions of dollars to keep on acting negatively in the region and pursuing a hostile nuclear programme (keep in mind that even if Iran is seen to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme, it takes a shorter period of time to convert civilian nuclear technology to military nuclear technology)- once sanctions are lifted, boost Iran’s arsenal of ICBM’s and conventional weapons via the lifting of the weapons ban, all the while giving Iran international legitimacy! Netanyahu has every reason to be terrified!
Certainly, every nation has the right to define its own destiny and maintain its own sovereignty, but this should be done within the confines of international law, and with respect to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of other nations. The issue of ownership of nuclear weapons provides a deterrence factor for nuclear states from would-be aggressors and increases respectability in the comity of nations. But it would also be a grave danger for the world if certain states of questionable behavior are allowed to possess them. If this deal goes forward, we would be right in predicting a pre-emptive strike by Israel against Iran, just as it did against Iraq, in defense of its national security. If the deal is killed, then maybe…just maybe, the USA would have another chance to drag Iran back to the negotiating table, and make the right demands this time! To give credit where credit is due, Iran does have a fine team of negotiators…but they are just as dangerous as they are skillful. I do feel the pain of the Iranian people who have had to bear the brunt of the crippling sanctions; but I also know that it has all been due to the actions of their leaders who are far removed from the pain and suffering.
As President Obama makes his rounds on capitol hill and continues to ascribe blame for any failure of the passage of this deal to Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and on all other imagined enemies alike, he should be mindful of the fact that a nuclear armed Iran is not just a threat to Israel alone, but also to the United States and all other nations that Iran’s leaders view as hostile to their leadership! I believe that Iran is poised to get nuclear weapons no matter the outcome, but we must not let them achieve this with the stamp of approval of the larger international community. It is now the duty of the US Congress to act right. We cannot be so quick to forget the lesson of Munich. A bad deal is a bad deal; and “no deal” is far better than a “bad deal”.

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Buchi Obichie said...

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Anonymous said...

The reality of this deal is, why give money to a country that doesn't abide with human right laws? Why give them so much money knowing they are probably really the biggest sponsors of terrorism worldwide even as we speak. And just like PM Netanyahu says, what does Iran need ICBMS for when Israel is close by? The world needs to wakeup from deep sleep. One is dealing with a team of Iranians with loaded guns, with more money on the's war!!!

Buchi Obichie said...

@ Anonymous, my sentiments exactly!!! These are the questions the world ought to be asking, instead of labeling PM Netanyahu a warmonger!!!