It’s clear Tehran wants regional power, not nuclear weapons

Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr. (Abedin Daherkenareh / EPA)
Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr. (Abedin Daherkenareh / EPA)

An agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme was, until recently, deemed difficult to achieve. Now, it has become quite impossible, noted columnist Jihad Al Khazen in the London-based daily Al Hayat.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has managed to cope with the economic sanctions, and the US, for its part, isn’t about to wage another war as long as Barack Obama is in the White House. As for Israel, it can’t destroy Iran’s nuclear reactors on its own,” he said.

Tehran didn’t seem to be in a pressing hurry to reach an agreement in its talks with the G5+1 group comprising the UN Security Council member states and Germany. Following a provisional agreement in November 2013, a series of sanctions imposed since 2006 were lifted and some of its funds that had been frozen in the West were released, the writer noted.

Iran produces 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, which it exports to China, Japan, South Korea and Turkey among other countries.

At the time that the European-American sanctions were imposed, Iran owned nearly 1,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges. Today, it has more than 20,000 of these systems and half of them are active, he added.

“Once again, the experience of the last decade shows that the US doesn’t have sufficient tools of persuasion to influence Iran. The ‘carrot’ that Washington dangled to encourage Iran to accept an agreement that suits Israel wasn’t enough,” Al Khazen wrote.

“Alternatively, it was Tehran that tried to sway the six negotiators by dangling another ‘carrot’ when its oil minister stated that his country would be ready, within a few months, to produce four million barrels of oil per day should the sanctions be lifted,” he said.

Another columnist noted that what the Iranians are really bargaining for goes beyond nuclear capabilities. What they really want is regional dominance.

The US-led Western camp is negotiating for one thing and Iran for another, said Mamoun Fandi in an opinion article on the news website AlArabiya.net.

The Iranians astutely exploited the Security Council’s lack of data regarding the volume of nuclear activity in Iran. They were quick to inflate their capabilities in a bid to enhance their position during negotiations over regional power, which is Iran’s ultimate objective, the writer explained.

“Iran is aware that building a nuclear bomb wouldn’t threaten its neighbours, especially those with the means to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran’s objective is to negotiate with the West over its share of power in the region. Its nuclear activity is nothing more than a bluff,” Fandi said.

Iran’s nuclear card, the talks and the thousands of kilometres its foreign minister has been travelling are all directed at pressuring the US to accept a more pronounced role for Tehran in the Gulf region, Iran’s first and foremost obsession.

Columnist Abdelwahab Badrakhan argued along the same lines in Abu Dhabi’s daily Al Ittihad: “Iran used a non-existent bomb to turn itself into a regional threat. It took advantage of the Iraqi occupation and the Arab strategic withdrawal to infiltrate several Arab countries using sectarian antagonism to shake ruling systems and social stability.”

The more willing Iran seems to decrease its nuclear programme’s capabilities, the greater its expectations for recognition of its power in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and other countries, the writer concluded.

Translated by Racha Makarem

rmakarem@thenational.ae

Published: December 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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