The tentative Iranian Nuclear Deal is certain to change the dynamics of Iran’s relationship with the West, but it will not end the antagonistic relationship Iran has with the International Community. Assuming the oversight and “snap back” mechanisms of the Iranian Nuclear Deal are adequate to address a breach of the agreement, which assumes renewed sanctions will have any impact on Iran’s nuclear problem, it must be triggered by one of the nations that negotiated the agreement or the European Union. Whether a good deal for the International Community or not, the proposal thoroughly neglects to provide any recourse for those who are most directly threatened by Iran, i.e. Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the many Peoples of the Middle East, which means the Iranian Nuclear Deal’s biggest shortcoming is the lack of focus on the Middle East.
In essence, the Iranian Nuclear Deal allows the West to sidestep conflicts with Russia and China while placing the bulk of responsibility for securing the Middle East from the Khamenei regime onto the shoulders of regional powers. In principle, this would not be such a big issue, except Middle Eastern countries have no direct means of triggering punitive measures should Iran reveal itself to be an emerging nuclear threat. If the NATO alliance, at least, is given authority, instead of the EU, Turkey would have some direct recourse. At best, Israel can push the US to move on potential violations, but this only further disenfranchises the rest of the Arab countries. The message this failure sends is that Middle Easterners are not full-fledged members of the International Community entitled to the full rights and protections of the International Community, even if they do not participate in talks.
The failure to address the concerns and interests of Middle Eastern nations creates a security threat. So long as Iran conforms to the agreement, the United States, France, Great Britain, Germany, and the EU will not risk undermining the nuclear deal. China and Russia will enjoy easier access to Iranian crude and consumers. When considering these countries are allies of Iran and increasingly hostile toward the West, the only motivation Russia and China to act will be to block efforts to reestablish sanctions should Iran violate the treaty or engage in destructive policy so egregious that the West is forced to corral Iran. Once Iran takes ownership 118 billion dollars or more in oil revenue within the next year, attracts enough foreign investments to upgrade its infrastructure, and builds its trade relations, Iran will have no use for Western cooperation. As such, Iran faces the temptation to act against its neighbors with impunity.
Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and the rest of the Middle East trusted the International Community to secure the region from an emerging nuclear threat as well as the numerous other security issues that the Khamenei regime fosters. Not only is it now clear to Iran’s neighbors that the International Community is primarily focused on the nuclear threat Iran poses, they have yet to be convinced that the International Community can actually prevent Iran from building a nuclear arsenal. Where the United States and West can use their economic might to impose sanctions, Middle Eastern countries are left to either use force against Iran or engage in a nuclear arms race to balance Iran’s nuclear agenda. For the region, this is a very real threat that will draw attention away from the fight against Islamic State and, potentially, lead to an open regional war or increased sponsorship of terrorism.
Because the Khamenei regime will be the one guaranteed loser, Iran must sell itself to the rest of the region to avoid this major national security risk. For the sake of maintaining strong relationships with Middle Eastern allies and guarding against an increased threat of globalized terrorism, the US and the rest of the West must build on the newly established relationships with Iran to address the whole spectrum of issues stemming from the Iranian government’s rogue policies. If Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is sincere in serving his Country and People, President Hassan Rouhani will have earned greater leeway in pursuing more moderate polices while hardliners will risk being framed as insurgents should they move to undermine Khamenei.
Weary of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s motivation and the agendas of other elements within the Khamenei regime, however, the West must play it safe. For Western companies and investors, it is best for everyone if they focus on buying oil from Iran and selling Western goods to Iran instead of investing their capital, even in the form of loans, into Iran. After all, Iran has a great deal of wealth to invest that will otherwise be used to support destructive endeavors throughout the regio while the possibility that Tehran could nationalize foreign assets will exist for the foreseeable future. Certainly, it will be tempting for Western countries to beat their Russian, Chinese, and Indian counterparts to secure the Iranian market, but suppressed, unstable oil prices, as well as China’s economic troubles, should tamp their enthusiasm.
That said, a nuclear deal is not actually the most significant objective of the nuclear talks. An increased reliance on Western imports and access to Western culture will raise the expectations of the Iranian People. Should the Khamenei regime attempt to crackdown on dissent once Western access has been normalized, the already pro- Western youth will be far more likely to rebel. If the Khamenei regime does not allow the Iranian People to Westernize, Western countries will have very limited interests in Iranian economy. More importantly, it will alarm Iran’s neighbors and they will help support rebellion within Iran or engage in armed conflict against Iran. Finally, the Iranian Nuclear Deal is not a done deal, but Iran’s decision to withdraw from the agreement will also be a call to arms.
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