There are two issues which have become crystal clear about the nuclear talks with Iran. First of all, the Obama administration wants to reach a final nuclear deal regardless of how flimsy and weak the comprehensive nuclear deal might be and regardless of whether the ultimate nuclear deal will leave the Islamic Republic with a path to obtain nuclear capabilities and lift economic and political sanctions.
Secondly, the Iranian leaders have masterfully captured the weakness of the Obama administration and its desperation to strike a final nuclear deal. As a result, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has been playing with the naiveté of the Obama administration by taking a tough stand and pointing out that Tehran will resist the “excessive demands” over its nuclear program. In other words, Iranian leaders are looking for a diluted, flimsy and sweet nuclear deal that would allow them to pursue their path to become a nuclear state and would help them phase out the economic and political sanctions as quickly as possible.
In the intense final few days of nuclear talks, the destiny of a historic nuclear deal and the outcome of the concentrated international negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear program will be determined. The deadline for nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) is approaching a deadline of 24 November.
There are some crucial hurdles which are still unresolved. These barriers are the process and phases through which sanction will be lifted as well as limitation on uranium enrichment, reducing the stockpile of already-enriched uranium, and the number of centrifuges that the Islamic Republic can retain. The Islamic Republic currently holds approximately 19,000 centrifuges. However, the Obama administration appears to be willing to ignore these gaps in order to save face by striking a deal and in order to add to his questionable and superficial records of Middle East achievements.
Although many scholars, politicians and policy analysts thought that the interim nuclear deal was far off and out of reach last year, the Obama administration, which desperately needed the interim nuclear deal, gave a significant amount of concessions and “closed the gaps” in the eleventh hours in order to persuade the Islamic Republic to sign the short term deal and reach an accord. This might occur again in the face of the final nuclear deal.
President Obama and Secretary of the State John Kerry will robustly push for any kind of final nuclear deal in order to avoid the post-failure consequences of the comprehensive nuclear deal and years of negotiations. The Obama administration has long been reluctant to carry out particular robust foreign policies such as ratcheting up political and economic sanctions on Iran and further isolating the Islamic Republic for its nuclear defiance.
In addition, the other reason for the White House’s weak and desperate position to reach a final nuclear deal, is that the Obama administration’s attempts to create a narrative domestically that the spending of a considerable amount of political capital, months of negotiations, release of billions of dollars to the Iranian government, and diplomacy have “worked.” As a result, in order to avert any criticism, President Obama and John Kerry are willing to jeopardize the security threat that a nuclear state of Iran might pose to the Middle East.
On the other hand, whether the nuclear talks fail or succeed, the Islamic Republic will come out of this game as a winner. The major winner of the success or failure of nuclear talks will be Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamnenei. Shrewdly and masterfully, Khamenei placed himself in a position to not lose his legitimacy and credibility whether the nuclear talks succeed or scuttle. On the one hand, Khamenei has been arguing that he does not trust the United States and these nuclear negotiations, while he has been willing to give his blessing and a chance to President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and their technocrat team to pursue their objectives with these nuclear talks. As a result, if nuclear talks fail, the Supreme Leader will argue that he told them so from the beginning, and if the nuclear talks succeed, he will get credit for being flexible and giving the president a chance. In addition, the Supreme leader has reached his economic, hegemonic, and political objectives in the meantime.
In case of failure, the Iranian leaders have already received billions of dollars, they bought more time to stabilize their economy, regain the value of their currency, reduce inflation, and further consolidate the hold on power of the ruling clerics. In addition Russia, China and some other Asian countries, and European companies have ratcheted up their economic and business deals with the Islamic Republic, particularly in the oil sector due to the prospects of these nuclear talks in the last year. In either ways, the ruling politicians of the Islamic republic will emerge as the winners.
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