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Nuclear deal with Iran update

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There have been several twists since the nuclear deal with Iran was announced, which are worthy of consideration as this process moves forward. Some of these are incredible but they are at least worth noting.

Iran has continued its centrifuges enriching uranium and claims that the agreement gives it the right to do so. The rhetoric out of Iran is almost the thumbing of their noses at the P5+1, (The P5+1 is the term given to the nations involved in the negotiations with Iran over its uranium enrichment.) At the same time UN experts were allowed to inspect for the first time since 2011 the Arak heavy water plant on Sunday. (This plant is of concern because its spent fuel could be used to create nuclear weapons if Iran built a reprocessing plant.) The optimist sees this as a first inspection of many in Iran. The pessimists point out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never been allowed into the Parchin military facility where the IAEA suspects Iran may have experimented with nuclear weapon design. Therefore a visit to this site could be a telling indicator if Iran is truly serious.

On the diplomatic front there have been two significant events.

While Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to call the six month the agreement “the deal of the century for Iran”, Israeli Present Shimon Peres said that he was ready to meet with Iranian Prime Minister Rohani. He also said that: “We must concentrate all our efforts on making sure Iran does not become a nuclear danger for the rest of the world.”

At the same time Us Secretary of Defense Hagel was in the region advocating the purchase of Missile Defenses for the region—note that he was not offering US defensive assistance.

Simultaneously, a very highly placed Saudi—Prince Turki-Al-Faisal—said that the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) states “must be part of of the negotiations between major world powers and Iran. “I suggest that the negotiations on Iran not be limited to the P5+1. The GCC must be involved. Iran is in the Gulf and any military effort will affect us all….On going talks are incomplete and the presence of the GCC states on the negotiating table will benefit everyone.” He then reminded the press that Iran must end “interference in Arab countries affairs. The only way to improve relations is by Iran becoming a stability factor in the region.”

The Peres statement is important because it says to the world that Israel has a vested interest in being part of the negotiations. This is important, but the Prince Turki statement goes even further. It links the negotiations to the other areas of conflict that the GCC have with Iran—support of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, support of Assad in Syria, efforts to destabilize Bahrain and to stir up minorities in the other Gulf states. If having the GCC represented at the table should emerge from the GCC summit that is just starting in Kuwait it would place the P5+1 in an extremely awkward position vis-à-vis the GCC states. There is already distrust of the US in Saudi Arabia and if the Saudis should be denied a seat as the representative of the GCC this would be a diplomatic mistake of the first order.

The Israeli and especially the Saudi comments about the negotiations are bound to have a significant impact on the entire negotiation. It is possible that the Saudis are trying to leverage the US position against Syria. The point is that the above could change the entire focus of the situation, possibly.

The next several months will be fascinating as the negotiating scenery changes.

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