The deal reached between Iran and “P-5 plus 1” (the U.S., China, Great Britain, France, Germany and Russia) in early April 2015 pleased all the negotiators. It achieved Iran’s objectives in that it will lift the economic sanctions imposed since 2010. The sanctions will be lifted in phases over a period of approximately six months after the final deal is signed. The deal also achieved “P-5 plus 1’s” objectives by strictly limiting Iran’s nuclear program and blocks every path Iran might take to develop nuclear weapons. The deal won’t be finalized until June 30th but all the parties were happy with the tentative agreement.
Then the negotiators went home and the problems flared.
In the U. S., Republican congressmen oppose the plan as “a list of dangerous U.S. concessions that will put Iran on the path to nuclear weapons” and a danger to Israel. Republican candidates in the 2014 elections received millions from pro-Israel donors. According to Scott McConnell, editor of “The American Conservative,” pressure from pro-Israel financial supporters have caused a shift in the Republican stance. “Republicans interested in foreign policy used to understand that it was not in America’s national interest to ignore entirely Arab claims against Israel. Now, there is a fanatical feeling of one-sidedness.”
In Iran, the “Powers That Be” had second thoughts about the gradual lifting of economic sanctions. Iran now insists that sanctions must be lifted before Iran signs the final deal at the end of June. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated, “The other side [the U. S.], which is known for backpedaling on its commitments, may want to corner our country when it comes to the specifics.” The U. S. remains determined that the sanctions will be lifted in phases after the final deal is signed and as Iran complies with the deal’s terms.
Despite the negotiators’ optimism merely weeks ago, they have an uphill battle in finalizing the agreement between them and then facilitating the agreement in their home countries.
One silver lining in all this is the fact that the U. S. and Iran are speaking at all. As of 2013, the U. S. and Iran had not officially spoken to each other in almost 40 years. The hostilities have eased enough for the two countries to negotiate; now both nations must continue working on a daunting mission.
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