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Nuke Mid-East

 

Editorial. Rajiv Sharma. XVII. VII. XV 


 

US GETS COZY TO 'AXIS OF EVIL'


 

Rajiv Sharma By Rajiv Sharma



US joins axis of evil -
fnbworld

 

It is not so long ago when George Bush led US government termed Iran as an “axis of evil”. Not much time has flown when they repeatedly referred to the Islamic republic as a fountainhead of world terrorism. Now when the US-led group of P5+1 has negotiated a nuclear deal with the same country they used to despise, the usual conservative skeptics are up in arms. They are calling it a complete surrender before Iran. While President Obama, in the face of its hostile opposition in his own country, is forced to defend the controversial deal for one reason, those who wish to take into account the history of US-Iran beleaguered relations are forced to welcome it, for some other reasons.  

 

Secret parleys Mr. Kerry-fnbworld

Iran being a signatory to Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) was always entitled to develop nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes. But, by the turn of the century, the US and its allies began to nurse a suspicion that Iran had been building capacity to produce weapon grade fissile material out of the facilities permitted under NPT. Consequently, in 2003, harsh sanctions were imposed with a view to cripple Iran’s economy. Not many would be convinced that only the threat of nuclear proliferation was the chief concern of the US and its allies that led to persecution of Iran. For example, In India’s neighborhood Pakistan produced a hoard of nuclear bombs clandestinely with full knowledge of the West. No sanctions of any consequence were imposed. 


After the twin-tower attack in Manhattan, ironically, Pakistan found itself as an ally of the US in its self proclaimed ‘war against terrorism’.  Iran, however, was arraigned on the opposite side for it was accused by them on many counts. The list of charges included: 1) Clandestine nuclear program. 2) Iran’s support to terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 3) Iran’s record of gross human right violations. 4) Iran’s role in fomenting trouble in Syria and neighboring countries and 5) Iran’s sophisticated missile program.


Surprisingly, the 20-month-long negotiations that painstakingly led to the deal were confined to nuclear issue only. There is no statement from both the parties to show that other four irritants in their relations were even discussed. When George Bush coined the term ‘axis of evil’ for Iraq, the issues of terrorism and human right violation could have been perturbing his mind. Obviously, the nuclear issue propped up later and came in handy to convince the world to impose sanctions. The current signing of the deal confined only to the nuclear issue, could mean that other issues of yesteryear are not relevant anymore. If viewed from another angle, it may also seem that the belligerence of the past is giving way to conciliation. A little contemplative inquiry into the issue can help bring out the real reasons for the sudden change in stance.


First, the US is fast losing its predominance as a world leader. Its misdemeanors in Afghanistan and Iraq coupled with economic downturn of 2008 have already taken its toll on it. It is now more vulnerable than ever it was in recent history. A survey conducted in major US cities established that 2/3rd majority preferred a negotiated settlement to direct intervention. Second, the steady but definite emergence of China as a world leader has probably compelled the US to extend a hand of friendship to its erstwhile detractors. Cuba, Vietnam and now Iran are quotable examples.

 

As per the agreement reached, Iran will continue to use 5000 of its first generation centrifuges for next ten years. Thereafter, it can use more advanced models of centrifuges based on latest designs. Iran has also agreed to reduce its stock of 10000 kg of weapon grade uranium to 300 kg for next 15 years, thereby debilitating its capacity to produce nuclear bombs. Similarly, the plutonium path to the bomb has also been reportedly blocked. More importantly, Iran has agreed to close its underground enrichment facility at Fordow. All this comes in lieu of promise of lifting economic sanctions to help Iran to reintegrate with the world.


President Obama has staunchly defended the deal. He declared in a television appearance, “The nuclear deal is a major victory for the Americans. American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change in middle east”. ‘The deal was not based on trust but on verification,” and went on to retort that he would veto any legislation that prevented the successful implementation of the deal.


On the other hand, the critics of the deal were extremely hostile in denigrating the deal. “This is sheer insanity” Clare Lopez, a US expert on Iraq is reported to have said in her first reaction. “This agreement legitimizes Iran’s overt nuclear program and provides both cover and funding for its clandestine nuclear program with extra financial bonuses for its global terrorist networking”, she stated.  Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahm was even more vociferous. He retorted, “From the initial reports we can already conclude that this agreement is a historic mistake for the world. Iran is going to receive a sure path to Nuclear weapons; Iran will get billions of dollars which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world”. He was surprised to note, that one could not prevent an agreement when the negotiators (Americans) were willing to make more and more concessions to those (Iranians) who even during talks kept on chanting “Death to America”.


Nuclear sites in
Iran-fnbworld

 

Former Israeli military spokesperson Miri Ragev said: instead, it gave Iran a License to kill’.. James Woosely, a former director of CIA in a scathing attack said that the deal would provide Iran with $ 150 billion to fund terrorism and pursue nuclear weapons. Senator Lindsey Graham, the republican presidential candidate stated in his hard hitting criticism, “This is the most dangerous, irresponsible step in the history of the Middle East. With this deal you have ensured that the Arabs will go nuclear. This will be death sentence overtime for Israel”.  


However, whatever, the opponents may say, the deal definitely attempts to search for a way forward. By no means can it be called perfect but it honestly attempts to prevent the situation in the Middle East from going out of hands. While it is for different interest groups in the world to slug it out on relative merits of the deal or lack of them, India is certainly likely to be benefitted, if our government plays its cards well.


First, Indian companies will get more opportunities to invest in Iran. India’s fast declining exports can get a boost due to renewed opportunities from its old trusted friend. In addition, the expected fall in crude oil provides a golden opportunity to India to strengthen its economy. Further, the geo-political implication for India will also be extremely significant. At present, India stands isolated in Afghanistan due to emergence of China-Pakistan-Afghanistan axis. Iran can help India to regain its foothold in Afghanistan. Iran’s anti-Taliban stance makes it our natural ally. On the other hand, India will have to walk a tightrope in dealing with countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are opposing the re-emergence of Iran on world stage, tooth and nail.  That the present government in Delhi is zealously cozying up to Israel is not going to make it easy to find a balance.  Furthermore, this government’s record in dealing with Muslim world calls for some serious rethinking.  In such a scenario, one can only hope that India is able to utilize the development to derive economic as well as geopolitical benefits for itself.

 

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