Defusing nuclear tensions

opinions

November 26, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Iran’s mission to develop nuclear weaponry has been sidelined, thanks to diplomacy.
A rare breakthrough in relations with Iran — the first in 34 years — happened last weekend when six world powers with the United Nations met with Iranian representatives in Geneva.
The upshot of the talks was a six-month curtailment on Iran’s nuclear production, limiting its enrichment of uranium to 5 percent and capping the size of its stockpile.
Routine inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency will help hold Iran accountable to its retrenchment of nuclear productivity.
The “carrot” in the negotiations was a relaxation of the punitive sanctions — the most recent in effect since 2010 — that have in essence crippled the Iranian economy.
During the interim, Iran will have access to about $4.2 billion stored in overseas accounts and it will be able to negotiate on a limited basis deals to purchase much-needed equipment for its oil refineries and other manufacturing purposes.
The sanctions have hit Iran’s petroleum industry hard, reducing production by half. A result has been run-away inflation rates of 35 percent, an unemployment rate of 12 percent,  and the creation of a black market in overdrive for the fight for scarce goods.
Estimates put the sanctions as costing $120 billion in lost revenue to Iran.
More widespread sanctions will remain in place until an ironclad agreement between Iran and western powers can be reached, which would limit Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful means.

THE WEEKEND’S success is not guaranteed, of course.
Threats by Israel and Saudi Arabia to take matters into their own hands and attack Iran do nothing to make its neighbor feel it should relax its effort to be comparatively armed.
Israel’s outrage is counterintuitive. If anything, it’s in Israel’s best interest to see Iran not become a nuclear power. Before these talks, no meaningful restraints on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs existed.
All in all, the weekend’s negotiations should be considered a success.
And for that, we are glad.
— Susan Lynn

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