Iran has played the West over many years with multiple attempts for a negotiated solution while using the time they bought with those moves to move their Nuclear program ahead. UN inspectors were shown a limited number of Nuclear sites in Iran, while Iran has been greatly expanding the number of centrifuges (which are necessary for uranium enrichment). After almost 7 years of “on and off” negotiations leading nowhere, a growing number of diplomats and common folk are beginning to ask themselves how much can they trust Iran.
And that is the key word: Trust. Without it, no working agreement is possible. It doesn't matter how many controls and/or checks and balances you put in place; if there is no basic trust between the parties, any agreement signed will be worth less than nothing.
Trust is the very foundation of good relations. Lack of trust undermines interpersonal as well as inter organizational relationships at every level - be it family, community, or the world stage. For trust to flourish, people need to deal on the up and up...in an open and transparent way.
While negotiators in Geneva feel they are close to an historic break through on the Iranian Nuclear program, the Ayatollah Khameini (the real power behind the throne) openly said that people should not believe that Iranian negotiators are in Geneva to compromise...in his view, they are there to assert the Iranian right to enrich uranium. So if the negotiators are not there to compromise, what will the agreement look like?
What raises additional questions is that none of the participants are really spelling out what the deal looks like beyond very vague descriptions. While this could be interpreted as necessary secrecy to ensure the success of the negotiations, it does not do much to reassure Western allies who share the neighborhood with the bullies of Teheran.
Saudi Arabia already announced their purchase of Nuclear weapons from Pakistan, a move they are entitled to by their prior agreements to help finance the Pakistani nuclear program. They have also announced that they will be developing their nuclear program. Egypt also announced its intention to begin a Nuclear program, although in their case this initiative may be hampered by their own internal problems and their fledging economic reality. Other western allies in the region, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar are expressing serious concerns about the direction of the negotiations. And of course, Israel – which Teheran has been threatening to wipe off the map for over 30 years – is also understandably concerned. Yet Western negotiators do not seem to be coordinating their positions with their regional allies, choosing instead to ignore or minimize their concerns (at least in appearance). This does not constitute any healthy foundation for trust of any kind and it is damaging the relationship of the US with our oldest and most reliable allies in the Middle East on BOTH sides of the Israeli-Arab fault lines...thus probably significantly weakening any chance the US might have to help resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Again, because of lack of trust.
Iran already has delivery systems to launch a nuclear payload anywhere in the Middle East and parts of Europe...so why is Iran developing ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) delivery systems? Who will they target with them that they cannot reach today?
The current negotiations in Geneva will have great consequences for decades to come, and not just in terms of Iran's nuclear program. American credibility in the Middle East is at serious risk. Should the agreement hold, the regional players will resent it because they were not even consulted regarding their concerns. Should the agreement with Iran NOT hold, the consequences are just too dire to consider. Either way, the American promises in the Middle East may no longer be taken very seriously...and without that basic trust, America's role in what is today one of the most important strategic regions in the world may be seriously undermined...
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