A Deal at Last in Iran

Two weeks ago in Geneva, Switzerland, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton formally announced that the UK, United States, Russia, France, China, and Germany (the P5+1) had reached a nuclear deal with Iran after countless months of negotiations. For some, this deal could not come sooner. However, others despised its final parameters. One thing is for sure, however. This deal will make it much harder for Iran to construct a nuclear WMD, in return for the lifting of $7 billion worth of sanctions.

Newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been instrumental in opening up nuclear negotiations with the West. Photo by Iranian Government.

The U.S. has always been on edge with Iran, and this long-held grudge goes back to the 1950s. In 1953, the CIA backed a coup to overthrow democratically elected Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadegh and reinstate power to the exiled Shah who had befriended the United States through oil trade. Through the latter part of the Shah’s regime, the U.S. provided him with millions of dollars, and in turn expected oil prices to drop in the ’70s. However, they didn’t. Tensions grew even more when the Shah recognized Israel as a threat, and began committing human rights abuses on his own people.

In 1979, the people of Iran decided they had had enough and overthrew the Shah to instate their own leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Blaming America for their struggling economy and the miserable past few decades, militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans for 444 days (for more on this historic event, watch the movie Argo). In reaction to this, the first economic trade sanctions were placed on Iran.

A mere year later, in 1980, Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded Iran with the support of the U.S., resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million people. There have even been reports that the U.S. provided targeting information for Iraqi chemical weapons on Iran. In response, Iran reportedly backed several anti-American and anti-Israel terrorist attacks, and also planted many underwater mines in the busy Persian Gulf.

In 1992, Iran was allegedly blamed by America for funding an attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina, resulting in more economic oil trade sanctions on Iran.

In the early 2000s, U.S.-Iran relations weakened when President Bush placed the country in the Axis of Evil along with North Korea and Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. was notably absent the beginning of nuclear negotiations between the EU and Iran.

Towards the second half of the last decade, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President. Ahmadinejad worsened relations even further by calling the Holocaust a myth and publicly criticizing the United States’ reaction to 9/11, along with other mishaps. President Bush, embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan, decided against war possibilities and instead joined nuclear negotiations with the Europeans, all while increasing the devastating sanctions on Iran’s economy.

More recently, in 2010 and 2011, the Obama Administration persuaded the UN to impose even more crippling sanctions, which cut Iranian oil exports in half.

After such a shaky history, it is clearly hard to believe that a deal has finally been reached. Sure, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel isn’t pleased, but it’s hard to imagine something that would please both him and Iran, and right now we have to be happy that the world is just a little bit safer. With these new restrictions, Iran is much less likely to get its hands on high grade uranium fit for a bomb, and should also see its economy stabilize as $7 billion worth of sanctions are lifted. Sure, this deal is only here for six months before more negotiations start up again, but progress is progress, and a deal is a deal. The results of these negotiations bring us that much closer to a safer, nuclear-free world.




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