04.04.2015 Author: Alexander Orlov

Lausanne: Major Success or Just a Step Forward?

345345342By the evening of April 2, after days and days of negotiations in Lausanne, the representatives of the Big Six and the Iranian delegation have managed to reach a political agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

Why political? – Because the the final agreement is still in the making. There’s a number of technical details that are yet to be agreed on. But it’s safe to say now that the ultimate goal has been reached. Iran will have to face certain limitations in the development of its nuclear program, but all the sanctions that were imposed by the UN Security Council would be withdrawn. The only question that hasn’t been answered yet is when this is going to happen. In any case Washington has got a carte blanche to pursue the normalization of bilateral relations with Iran, gaining access to its oil and gas resources.

Iran agreed to abandon the construction of new facilities for uranium enrichment in the coming years, along with cutting in half the number of centrifuges. Two-thirds of Iran’s uranium enrichment capacities will be sealed up for 10 years. The better part of Iranian uranium reserves will be depleted or moved away from the country. Iran agreed to storage “extra” centrifuge along with enrichment equipment to warehouses monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Now the parties can start working on the final agreement. It is expected that it will be prepared by early July. Under the agreement reached, Russia’s state atomic corporation Rosatom is able to supply fresh fuel to Iran while taking back used irradiated fuel from all the existing reactors in Iran along with servicing those that are yet to be built.

It’s no coincidence that US President Barack Obama has called the agreement with Iran a “historic” one. He underlined that this deal goes in tune with the key objectives of the United States. However, he immediately added that this agreement must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, therefore there there must be no way that would enable Tehran to cheat the international community, on those conditions the West will gradually begin withdrawing sanctions. Still everyone understands that despite all the restrictions that must ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran maintains the potential for rapid creation of nuclear weapons. But Washington has now obtained a political formula that will help it explain to the world, and especially to Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Republican majority in the Senate, why it can now remove the sanctions against Iran, while starting the development of lucrative trade and economic relations with the Islamic Republic.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once the talks between Tehran and the Big Six were concluded, said that a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program will facilitate the removal of sanctions. According to the UN Secretary General, the agreement will be respecting Iran’s rights, while providing the international community with a tool to ensure that its nuclear program will be used for strictly peaceful purposes. “The Secretary-General is convinced that a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue will contribute to peace and stability in the region and enable all countries to cooperate urgently to deal with the many serious security challenges they face. ” – reads a press statement issued by the United Nations. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has also expressed her contempt over the successful completion of negotiations, she stated that the EU will withdraw sanctions against Iran in accordance with the framework of the agreements reached in Lausanne.

It’s only natural that the news on the successful completion of negotiations and the possible withdrawal of sanctions against Iran, which has been suppressed by an oil embargo, has already affected the price of black gold. In just 15 minutes, the cost of a barrel of Brent fell by more than 5%.

Iranian authorities have also announced their contempt with the successful completion of negotiations, yet they stressed that there’s a lot of differences in positions of Iran and the United States that are yet to be discussed. All in all, Iran’s statements remain rather reserved.

A similar reaction was shown by the head of the Russian delegation Sergey Ryabkov that replaced Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that left Lausanne earlier. Ryabkov underlined that the “round ended with an agreement on the key parameters of the future arrangements.” According to Ryabkov, the agreement represents a unique and complex document, that is yet to be discussed in detail. The final text of the agreement is yet to be drafted and it will be a complicated process. Some differences in positions still remain, since the wording of certain passages is yet to be clarified.

Of course, it is too early to speak about the complete success of negotiations. As of now it’s the key parameters of the matter at hand have been agreed on, while some major issues are yet be resolved. The Big Six and Iran will have to search for a compromise on technical issues that will be discussed later on. At the same time one shouldn’t discount Israel and Saudi Arabia from the game. It’s unlikely that they will accept the fact that Iran has de facto come on top of the this round of negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program.

Alexander Orlov, political scientist, expert Orientalist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”