by Majid Rafizadeh
what is clear is that the Islamic Republic, particularly the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior cadre of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have gained considerable amount of geopolitical, geostrategic and economic advantages from this offer by the Obama administration.
While the Obama administration formerly stated that extending the nuclear talks is out of equation, nevertheless, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry raised the option of an extension a day before the November 24th deadline. Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, definitely welcomed the idea.
After over a year of negotiations, which have traveled across the globe from Vienna, to Oman, and to New York, the negotiators (the Islamic Republic and the P5+1: China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) planned to extend the nuclear talks for another seven months in order to finalize the preliminary deal reached last year in Geneva. Accordingly, the nuclear negotiations will continue through the end of June.
The obscure objectives are to achieve a “headline” agreement by March 1st and seal the complete technical details of the headline agreement by July 1st. Details and nuances of the nuclear talks, with regards to agreements and gaps, have yet to be released, but some diplomats stated the repeatedly-heard phrase that “progress has been made.”
The nuclear extension definitely lacks any clear key terms upon which prospective nuclear talks would be anchored or that give any idea how a final nuclear deal could be reached.
But what is clear is that the Islamic Republic, particularly the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior cadre of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have gained considerable amount of geopolitical, geostrategic and economic advantages from this offer by the Obama administration. The Supreme Leader’s strategies to buy time, regain full recovery in the economy, pursue his regional hegemonic and ideological ambitions, and reinitiate his government’s nuclear program have been fulfilled.
Based on the extension offered by the Obama administration, the Islamic Republic will continue receiving $700 million per month in frozen assets during the extended seven month period. Secondly, Iran will further consolidate its economy through increased sales in oil, particularly to Asian countries, heighten business deals with some Western companies, regain the value of its currency, and enjoy the removed sanctions on some of its industries. As a result, Iran will attempt to address the economic challenges which were threatening the hold on power of the ruling politicians.
From the economic perspective, the $700 million in sanctions relief will boost Iran’s economy as it is an equivalence of approximately 350,000 more oil barrels a day, based on the current market price.
The Islamic Republic exports roughly one million barrels of crude oil in a day. The sanctions relief would be equivalent to a 30 percent increase in oil sale. In the next few months, Tehran will attempt to push for additional sanctions relief as well as ratchet up its economic deals, such export of gas and other goods, to some European and Eastern countries including France, Germany, Russia, Japan, and China.
Some European countries’ exports to Iran have already ratcheted up due to the prospects of the nuclear negotiations. Tehran Times, the Islamic Republic’s state newspaper, stated that Germany was Iran’s leading trade partner “The European country (Germany) exported €207 million of goods to Iran in June 2014, an 88 percent rise compared to June 2013.” Nevertheless, Tehran needs the complete lifting of economic sanctions in order to gain the optimal potentials of its economy and gain full recovery.
Third, the extension of the nuclear negotiations will ensure to the Iranian leaders that the international community, specifically the West, will not make efforts in further isolating Iran and pressuring it economically or politically.
Iran is less likely to provide more evidence proving that it did not carry out secret tests on the development of atomic weapons in Parchin or other military complexes. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency recently pointed out that the Islamic Republic continues to deny the IAEA access to sensitive military site which are suspected to be used for nuclear activities.
Finally, the Islamic Republic’s antagonistic stance towards the United States and the West will remain the same as well. This week, while Khamenei officially granted his blessing to Rouhani to continue with the game of nuclear negotiations, he also called the West “arrogant.” Earlier, he published a “9-step plan” to eliminate Israel. After the extension of the nuclear talks, President Rouhani pointed out on state television that “I promise the Iranian nation that those centrifuges will never stop working.” The extension not only will not alter the Islamic Republic’s position on its nuclear program, but will give the ruling clerics the opportunity to be further empowered, making them more determined to pursue their regional hegemonic ambitions.
Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.
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