The final deal has been reached after three weeks of continuous efforts as the negotiation process developed in Vienna. Five United Nations Security Council permanent members, Germany and Iran concluded a final agreement. The 100-page document contains technical and legal details. This is an event of global importance, a bright example of great powers’ cooperation – something that has happened so seldom recently.
The document is signed by Russia, the United States, France, Great Britain and Germany with an authority from the UN to close the nuclear dossier. This year the United Nations Organization turns 70. For many years the most important international body has failed to prove its ability to influence the world events and offer solutions worked out at the round table to prevent the use of force. It has proven this ability now and this is the main result to take notice of.
After ten years of international isolation Iran is back on the international arena. It has avoided a war with the West and its regional allies. Washington will lose its main argument for confrontation with Iran, the European Union and Japan will get rid of American pressure making them refuse fruitful economic ties with the Islamic Republic. Israel and Saudi Arabia have already started to prepare for drastic changes in the Middle East. Syria, Yemen and Iraq stand to benefit from Iran’s newly acquired ability to influence world events using diplomatic leverage. Now what about Russia?
According to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the parties have agreed on a comprehensive plan of action. A draft resolution will be submitted to the United Nations Security Council for approval. The Minister said Russia would take an active part in the process of implementation. The agreement fully meets the foreign policy concept of Russia which considers the relationship with Teheran to be an issue of great importance. This fact has been proven by the Kremlin’s stance during the negotiations.
The deal is the result of hard effort. Tehran considered Russia as the most reliable partner. The relationship was bolstered by nuclear cooperation. The both sides have close views on the Middle East problems. Moscow and Tehran stand up to the US foreign policy aimed at global hegemony. The expectations have been met. Russia played a key role in the process. At the same time it avoided confrontation with the United States. The principles expounded by Russia laid a foundation for the agreement. Moscow softened the tough stand taken by the West at the talks. Iran preserves its right to peaceful nuclear program, including uranium enrichment, in case it is conducted under strict international control.
The sanctions against Iran will be lifted. The international community recognizes the Iran’s right to implement a nuclear energy program in return for guarantees that the research will not be conducted for military purposes. There will be restrictions but peaceful research will continue. It suits Tehran and Moscow. Some commentators say the deal may have negative consequences for Russia. No longer a rogue state, will Tehran refuse constructive dealing with Moscow? There is no ground to believe it may happen. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said on many occasions he did not trust the United States, no matter if there was a deal or not.
The lifting of sanctions against Iran and the restoration of its economic cooperation with the West does not threaten Russian companies. They conduct activities in the fields where the West has never been a competitor. France is interested in auto production. Germany and Italy will export technology and industrial equipment like they used to do. These sectors of Iranian economy account for no more than 5% of all Russian exports to this country. Russia is to launch the construction of the Bushehr-2 Nuclear Power Plant this year. This is a multi-billion contract.
The agreement reached in Vienna does away with many hindrances on the way of its implementation. The whole process, including the use of equipment and nuclear fuel, will be monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and fully correspond to regime of non-proliferation. Some experts believe that Iran will become dependent on Western energy majors making it act against the interests of Russia. For instance, in May-June this year Royal Dutch Shell and Italian Eni held talks with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh over investment in Iran's energy industry in the expectation of a deal to lift international sanctions. Actually, the economic deals were not the main topic on the agenda. The issue in focus was the debt the companies owe to the National Iranian Oil Company for crude oil which they had taken delivery of but were unable to pay for due to sanctions.
The time has come to get back to business with Iran and foot the bills. Russia has no debts to pay off. The Iranian energy is under government control. The national top leadership has emphasized that it has no trust for European companies that joined the US-imposed sanctions. The return to economic cooperation with Iran will not be a bed of roses for Europe. Russia concluded a number of agreements with Iran in 2014-2015. The sanctions were the only obstacle on the way of their realization. The Iran’s access to SWIFT has already been restored.
Russia and Iran applied great effort in Vienna to reach an agreement on arms embargo. Some time ago Russian President Vladimir Putin took a decision to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Iran according to previous agreements. Now the ban on arms supplies will be partially lifted. Tehran insisted on the right to supply its regional allies with defensive weapons. The agreement envisions the right to supply arms to other countries so that they could fight extremism and terrorism. Now Iran can openly deliver military aid to Syria, Shia self-defense forces in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen if these activities do not contradict the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The US-Iran bargaining was decisive for the whole negotiation process. No matter all the concessions, Tehran managed to defend its position defined by Ayatollah Khamenei who has said that Iran will never refuse its right to conduct peaceful nuclear program. According to him, Iran must be ready to fight enemies.
President Rouhani addressed the nation. He and his foreign minister Javad Zarif look like winners in the eyes of Iranian people. Two predecessors of Rouhani had taken part in the talks before he took office in the June of 2013. Rouhani promised to counter the US efforts standing in the way of Iran’s economic progress. He and the government he led believed that its prime mission was to restore the economy damaged by sanctions, normalize the relations with the West and put an end to international isolation. The mission has been accomplished.