Whether you like it or not, gone are the days when U.S. Foreign Policy in Iran could be carried out covertly by U.S. intelligence teams.
As the historic nuclear agreement between The Islamic Republic of Iran and the E3/EU+3 was released today, a barrage of criticism and praise began pouring in from all sources. While there is wide disagreement over the specifics and technicalities of the deal, one thing remains certain: Iran has moved from their status as a state that can be easily manipulated and controlled by the world powers to one that can stand its ground and force the hand of those same powers. The very fact that Iran managed to engage some of the world’s most powerful countries in extended negotiations under which the republic was treated very nearly as an equal represents a massive shift in Iran’s status on the international playing field. Iran has thus placed itself in a position that it has sought to achieve for years, one which arguably benefits it much more than a nuclear weapon itself would have.
An obvious example that supports this idea manifests itself in the strain this agreement has placed on the relationship between The U.S. and Israel. This diplomatic impasse is one that Iran views not only as a positive bonus to the already desirable effects of the agreement, but is also specifically representative of the Republic’s growing status as a regional power broker. While only a few decades ago the U.S. was willing to jeopardize much of its influence in the region to secure Iran’s cooperation with Israel and the West, the U.S. Is now willing to jeopardize its diplomatic relationship with Israel over cooperation with Iran. Iran has thus effectively placed its own capabilities in a position of greater interest to the U.S. than its relationship with Israel, and effectively alleviated the threat of Israeli military actions, which would greatly rely on U.S. support to succeed.
As for the specifics of the agreement, those too suggest that Iran has managed to move from a position of submissiveness to one that enables them to fight for policies deemed integral to the success of the state. Upon entering the negotiations, many had hoped that they would result in the total shutdown of Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, or at an impasse that would result in war. But instead, the agreement only limits the permissible number of centrifuges, initiated required facility inspections, and seeks to slightly lengthen the break-out time Iran would need to create a functioning weapon. And while certain safeguards have been put in place to ensure that Iran begins complying with the agreement immediately and will continue to do so in the years to come, the nature of these specifications is representative of Iran’s new ability to truly negotiate as an equal and hold their own on the world stage.
Looking to the future, some say that Iran is now poised to create a nuclear weapon, or that this agreement will unfold much in the way agreements with rogue states like North Korea have. Others argue that this agreement represents a turning point for Iran’s participation on the world stage, one which is likely to result in increased cooperation between the state and the major Western powers. What remains certain is that the Islamic Republic is no longer a pawn on the chessboard of Cold War politics, but rather a regional power broker and international player in a right of its own.