30 December 2012, 17:08

2012. Recap. Looming uncertainty over Iran

2012. Recap. Looming uncertainty over Iran

The outgoing year saw several new rounds of nuclear talks between Iran and six major world powers. Negotiations resumed after almost a year-long break amid high hopes for a breakthrough. Unfortunately, there is none in sight. It has now been ten years since the P5-plus-one group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) backed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanded a halt to Iran’s uranium enrichment.

In the course of the talks, it became clear the West was growing more dependent on them, while Tehran, on the contrary, was becoming more confident and signaling that it didn’t need them at all. Russia, which supported Iran throughout the past years, eventually joined international sanctions against it. If Iran comes into possession of nuclear weapons, a military conflict in the Middle and Near East will be inevitable, says Vladimir Sazhin, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Why is the nuclearization of Iran dangerous? First, because its political foes, Persian Gulf countries in the first place, will follow suit, and second, because having the potential to build nuclear weapons, Iran will definitely pursue a tougher and more radical regional policy.”

Some analysts are playing down suspicions that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb. “Why should it strive to obtain the weapons it might never be able to use?’ they wonder. A prominent Russian Orientalist, Professor Sergei Druzhilovsky, thinks that the real reason why the West is making so much fuss about Iran lies elsewhere.

“They sought to place Iran under the UN Security Council’s control. For a long time, they kept pondering on how this could be done: human rights, women’s rights, prison torture – nothing seemed suitable enough. Finally, they decided to pounce on the Iranian nuclear program. The West is seeking to topple this unpleasant and uncontrollable regime that speaks straight from the shoulder, not the way it is expected to.”

Iran may not need nuclear weapons now, but that does not mean it will not need them in the future, others say. Tehran is building an industrial base for nuclear arms production, doing it in breach of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) it has signed and paying no attention to the IAEA or the West, argues Yevgeny Satanovsky, Director of the Moscow Institute for Middle East Studies:

“From Iran’s point of view, all these talks are a great success because they divert attention from a moment in the future when Iran at last obtains nuclear weapons. Then, military strikes will be useless and a certain deal will have to be negotiated.”

As uncertainty looms over what to expect from the Iran talks, experts fear that both time and patience are running out. Either Iran freezes its nuclear program, or it must prepare to face the consequences.

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