Historic Iran nuke deal resets Eurasia’s ‘Great Game’: Escobar

This is it. It is indeed historic. And diplomacy eventually wins. In terms of the New Great Game in Eurasia, and the ongoing tectonic shifts reorganizing Eurasia, this is huge: Iran — supported by Russia and China — has finally, successfully, called the long, winding 12-year-long Atlanticist bluff on its “nuclear weapons.”

And this only happened because the Obama administration needed 1) a lone foreign policy success, and 2) a go at trying to influence at least laterally the onset of the new Eurasia-centered geopolitical order.

So here it is – the 159-page, as detailed as possible, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); the actual P5+1/Iran nuclear deal. As Iranian diplomats have stressed, the JCPOA will be presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which will then adopt a resolution within 7 to 10 days making it an official international document.

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

Foreign ministers pose for a group picture at UN building in Vienna

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described the deal — significantly — as a very Chinese “win-win” solution. But not perfect; “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”

Zarif also had to stress — correctly — this was a long-sought solution for an “unnecessary crisis”; the politicization — essentially by the US — of a scientific, technical dossier.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Steinmeier, for his part, was euphoric; “A historic day! We leave 35 years of speechlessness + more than 12 years of a dangerous conflict behind us.”

Looking ahead, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted now there can be “a focus on shared challenges” – referring to the real fight that NATO, and Iran, should pursue together; against the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, whose ideological matrix is intolerant Wahhabism and whose attacks are directed against both Shi’ites and westerners.

Right on cue, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the deal will contribute to fighting terrorism in the Middle East, not to mention “assisting in strengthening global and regional security, global nuclear non-proliferation” and — perhaps wishful thinking? — “the creation in the Middle East of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the deal “fully corresponds” with Russia’s negotiating points. The fact is no deal would have been possible without extensive Russian involvement — and the Obama administration knows it (but cannot admit it publicly).

The real problem started when Lavrov added that Moscow expects the cancellation of Washington’s missile defense plans, after the Iran deal proves that Tehran is not, and won’t be, a nuclear “threat.”

There’s the rub. The Pentagon simply won’t cancel an essential part of its Full Spectrum Dominance military doctrine simply because of mere “diplomacy.” Every security analyst not blinded by ideology knows that missile defense was never about Iran, but about Russia. The Pentagon’s new military review still states — not by accident — major Eurasian players Iran, China and Russia as “threats” to U.S. national security.

Now from the brighter side on Iran-Russia relations. Trade is bound to increase, especially in nanotechnology, machinery parts and agriculture. And on the all-pervasive energy front, Iran will indeed compete with Russia in major markets such as Turkey and soon Western Europe, but there’s plenty of leeway for Gazprom and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to coordinate their market share. NIOC executive Mohsen Qamsari advances that Iran will prioritize exporting to Asia, and will try to regain the at least 42% of the European market share that it had before sanctions.

Compared to so many uplifting perspectives, Washington’s reaction was quite pedestrian. US President Barack Obama preferred to stress — correctly — that every pathway to an Iranian nuclear weapon has been cut off. And he vowed to veto any legislation in the US Congress that blocks the deal. When I was in Vienna last week I had surefire confirmation — from a European source — that the Obama administration feels confident it has the votes it needs in Capitol Hill.

And what about all that oil?

Tariq Rauf, former Head of Verification and Security Policy at the IAEA and currently Director of the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), hailed the deal as “the most significant multilateral nuclear agreement in two decades – the last such agreement was the 1996 nuclear test ban treaty.” Rauf even advanced that the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize should go to US Secretary of State Jon Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif.

Rebuilding trust between the US and Iran, though, will be a long and winding road.

Tehran agreed to a 15-year moratorium on enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent; this means it has agreed to reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. Only Natanz will conduct enrichment; and Fordo, additionally, won’t store fissile material.

Iran agreed to store no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium — a 96% reduction compared to current levels. The Arak reactor will be reconfigured, and won’t be used to produce plutonium. The spent fuel will be handled by an international team.

The IAEA and Iran signed a roadmap in Tehran also this Tuesday; that was already decided last week in Vienna. By December 15, all past and present outstanding issues — that amount to 12 items — should be clarified, and the IAEA will deliver a final assessment. IAEA access to the Parchin military site — always a very contentious issue — is part of a separate arrangement.

One of the major sticking points these last few days in Vienna was solved — with Tehran allowing UN inspectors to visit virtually any site. But it may object to a particular visit. A Joint Commission — the P5+1 + Iran — will be able to override any objections with a simple majority vote. After that Iran has three days to comply — in case it loses the vote. There won’t be American inspectors — shades of the run-up towards the war on Iraq; only from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran.

So implementation of the deal will take at least the next five months. Sanctions will be lifted only by early 2016.

What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.

And then there’s, once again, oil. Iran has as much as a whopping 50 million barrels of oil stored at sea — and that’s about ready to hit the global market. The purchaser of choice will be, inevitably, China — as the West remains mired in recession. Iran’s first order of work is to regain lost market share to Persian Gulf producers. Yet the trend is for oil prices to go down – so Iran cannot count on much profit in the short to medium term.

Now for a real war on terror?

The conventional arms embargo on Iran essentially stays, for five years. That’s absurd, compared to Israel and the House of Saud arming themselves to their teeth.

Last May the US Congress approved a $1.9 billion arms sale to Israel. That includes 50 BLU-113 bunker-buster bombs — to do what? Bomb Natanz? — and 3,000 Hellfire missiles. As for Saudi Arabia, according to SIPRI, the House of Saud spent a whopping $80 billion on weapons last year; more than nuclear powers France or Britain. The House of Saud is waging an — illegal — war on Yemen.

Qatar is not far behind. It clinched an $11 billion deal to buy Apache helicopters and Javelin and Patriot air defense systems, and is bound to buy loads of F-15 fighters.

Trita Parsi, president of the National American-Iranian Council, went straight to the point; “Saudi Arabia spends 13 times more money on its defense than Iran does. But somehow Iran, and not Saudi Arabia, is seen by the US as the potential aggressor.”

So, whatever happens, expect tough days ahead. Two weeks ago, Foreign Minister Zarif told a small group of independent journalists in Vienna, including this correspondent, that the negotiations would be a success because the US and Iran had agreed on “no humiliation of one another.” He stressed he paid “a high domestic price for not blaming the Americans,” and he praised Kerry as “a reasonable man.” But he was wary of the US establishment, which to a great extent, according to his best information, was dead set against the lifting of sanctions.

Zarif also praised the Russian idea that after a deal, it will be time to form a real counter-terrorism coalition, featuring Americans, Iranians, Russians, Chinese and Europeans — even as Putin and Obama had agreed to work together on “regional issues.” And Iranian diplomacy was giving signs that the Obama administration had finally understood that the alternative to Assad in Syria was ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, not the “Free” Syrian Army.

That degree of collaboration, post-Wall of Mistrust, remains to be seen. Then it will be possible to clearly evaluate whether the Obama administration has made a major strategic decision, and whether “normalizing” its relation with Iran involves much more than meets the eye.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)



Categories: AT Top Writers, Empire of Chaos, Middle East, Pepe Escobar

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Quoting the article “What’s certain is that Iran will become a magnet for foreign investment. Major western and Asian multinationals are already positioned to start cracking this practically virgin market with over 70 million people, including a very well educated middle class. There will be a boom in sectors such as consumer electronics, the auto industry and hospitality and leisure.”
    When most, if not all, sanctions are removed Iran will emerge as a powerful economy. Her economy is one of the most diverse in that region and in the world. It will also mean a greater voice from Tehran in the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz.

    Iran is also slated to join the (Chinese) Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). That alone would be a political and economic leap for Iran.

  • Sarastro92

    Ok. But what happens when the Senate fails to ratify the treaty?

    Seems this would leave the US out in the cold with Tel Aviv masters as the world moves on. Spengler will set his high dudgeon to music.

  • Skalla

    The Nobel Peace Price going to John Kerry ? Isn’t that going a bit far ? He was not the only negotiator and his past in Vietnam does not really make him a man of peace, even if he tried to redeem himself afterwards …

  • Skalla

    Obama said that he will do everything needed to stop the Senate from blocking the ratification of the treaty. Did he mean veto or tantrum, I do not know, but that shows a certain contempt for democracy … After all, the senate is as legitimate a representation of the popular will as Obama is ! (and probably more since the changes were more recent)

  • miguel gallardo

    This is not us treaty.. The U.S. congress has not authority only on the head of Tom cotton . This is UN issue with European powers

  • Sarastro92

    Yeah. So, as I said, if the US does not ratify it, then what will the US do? Declare war on the rest of the world? Or sit in isolation with their Israeli masters?

  • Sarastro92

    The Senate’s right to veto a treaty is not in question. Where this leaves the US is

  • Skalla

    Your sentence seems to have been truncated by accident …

  • Sarastro92

    There was no accident… if the treaty fails the US probably will have little recourse short of threatening the whole world with sanctions. That’s how I see this playing out.

  • Skalla

    Thanks for explaining.

  • Godblessourchildren

    There is too much money and investment opportunities to be made and, therefore, the President will most likely push the treaty through. There is much more money to be made investing in Iran than investing in Israel, which has led to our 17+ trillion dollar deficit and destruction of our prestige. America recognizes that the train has left the station, but it still has time to jump on-board. The neocons have led this country to the brink of world war and destruction; Time to dump those crazies. Because of the neocons, Britain is a failed state; Israel is a welfare state; America has no GNP and is at the brink of an economic collapse which can be temporarily averted by reintegrating itself with the world economic market. I’m certain that this does not go unnoticed by Obama.

  • Rukander

    Maybe sit in isolation with their Israei master waiting for the heaven.

  • Joji Cherian

    After all, the senate is as legitimate a representation of the popular will.Popular will. yes will of Shelsdon Adelson,Saban, Kristoll. Where does the popular will come into play.It is the will opf the bunch of traitors mentioned others.Period

  • Joji Cherian

    The entire negotiating team deserves.Of kerry and Sarif need special mention

  • originalone

    And now folks, the “KABUKI” performance will adjourn to the U.S., both in the halls of congress as well as the “blogosphere”. As far as the M.E. being flooded with any nuclear devices, look toward the one and only country that has declared publicly that it wont give up its nukes. We will see what happens, whether the world will be a better place, or the warmongers get their way?.

  • Cesar Jeopardy

    The U.S. is already at war with much of the rest of the world.

  • Sarastro92

    Yup… Bankrupt and friendless … wonderful sunset… but perhaps not entirely hopeless… In any case beware of collapsing Empires with nuclear weapons.

  • Sarastro92

    Somewhere Spengler is weeping.

  • Dan Kuhn

    The US has seen the error of it`s ways in attempting to wrest control of Iran away from China and Russia. In the Western hemisphere it is trying to revive the Munroe Doctrine with it`s opening to Cuba and attempted revision of it`s policy towards Venezuela. The US has lost forever, it`s hedgemon status in Asia and is working on salvaging what it can of it`s influence in the West. It is definitely reeling from the disasters that are unfolding in the Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan. So far Iran and Cuba look like the only bright spots in it`s foreign policy for the past 60 years.

  • Fool on the Hill

    The Senate and Congress do not represent the will of the people. See the following from Salon regarding bi-partisan support of voters for domestic ideas that won’t see the light of day:

    “You can get a strong sense of this from the results of the “Big Ideas” poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Institute in January, which has thus far gotten far less attention than it deserves. . . . PCI first solicited ideas online through an open submission process (more than 2,600 specific proposals were submitted) and then let people vote on them (more than a million votes were cast). This bottom-up process was then tested out in a national poll of 1500 likely voters in 2016 (distributed across three party lines, i.e., R, D and I.) The following “Big Ideas” received 70% support or more:”

    Allow Government to Negotiate Drug Prices (79%)
    Give Students the Same Low Interest Rates as Big Banks (78%)
    Universal Pre-Kindergarten (77%)
    Fair Trade that Protect Workers, the Environment, and Jobs (75%)
    End Tax Loopholes for Corporations that Ship Jobs Overseas (74%)
    End Gerrymandering (73%)
    Let Homeowners Pay Down Mortgage With 401k (72%)
    Debt-Free College at All Public Universities (Message A) (71%)
    Infrastructure Jobs Program — $400 Billion / Year (71%)
    Require NSA to Get Warrants (71%)
    Disclose Corporate Spending on Politics/Lobbying (71%)
    Medicare Buy-In for All (71%)
    Close Offshore Corporate Tax Loopholes (70%)
    Green New Deal — Millions Of Clean-Energy Jobs (70%)
    Full Employment Act (70%)
    Expand Social Security Benefits (70%)”

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.boldprogressives.org/images/Big_Ideas-ePolling_PDF-1.pdf

  • TomaATL_AlKilo

    Pepe. Great read as usual.
    Couple of points.

    1) Saudi defense spending for what?
    The fact that 10% of Saudi’s GDP goes presumably on defense is meaningless without hard evidence. It seems in large part just an euphemism for money laundering of petrodollars to buy influence in Washington and the EU.

    2) Alliance with Assad and Teheran to fight fanatical fake political Sunnis Islam is delusional.
    Sunnis tried to copy the Iranian revolution the same year in Mecca, but were crushed by French paratroopers. To appease the restive population, Saudi royals made a pact with state funded clerics to spew a radical brand of Islam, and export it. Later Qatar royals co-opted the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring. They tried to overrun Egypt’s Al Hazar and make it the seat of Sunni political theocratic power, Teheran style. Also let’s not forget that Teheran openly gave AQ a safe heaven after they fled Afghanistan. In other words fake fanatical political Islam at the service of oligarchs and theocrats, to stay in power, is not that different whether it is Shiite or Sunni.

    3) The best one can hope for is that:
    -a moderate Persian Shiite middle class emerges and transforms Iran evolves to become a more moderate constitutional theocracy (eg constitutional monarchy equivalent).
    – moderate Sunni Arabs get their act together, and shut the mouths of their crazy clerics (the recent daring and hilarious challenge by a couple of Saudi comedians is a hopeful sign); then take over the administration of ex Syriaq Arab Sunni Levant provinces for 2 generations. This could be done with the help of moderate local tribal elders and patrolled by regional acceptable actors like Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Saudi, with perhaps NATO logistics.

    But to suggest that an alliance with Shiites and Allawites will appease radical Sunnis is at best a wet dream of Russian merchants of chaos, to disrupt competing gas corridors to Europe.

  • TomaATL_AlKilo

    May I add, it is to the best interest of Arabs, Persians and yes even Israel, regardless of religious persuasion, to bury the hatchet.
    The Levant and the Gulf are southern branches of the New Silk Road to emerging African markets.
    We are entering the post oil, natural gas transition, where Eurasia will play a central role.
    Those that prop up fanatical fake Islam, be it Sunni or Shiite, are only doing this to delay this inevitable huge economic boom, that potentially will reverberate well into the next century.
    It’s easy to see why the US is nervous about this shift in power.

  • joed

    The u s Senate does not represent “the people” it does represent interests of the 50 States.
    The Senators represent the interests of the states they are from.
    The senators do not represent the people of any state, they represent the government of the state they are from.

  • Fool on the Hill

    Not quite “government of the people, by the people, for the people,… which is the point after all.

  • williamwilliams

    You’re 103 years late regarding US senators representing their state governments, which was set aside by the 17th Amendment to the US Consitution. Bad mistake IMHO… but at this point, really, what difference does it make?

  • Jack Temujin

    Finally, Zionists and their lapdogs are waking up from a deep coma and realize that West-dominated world is coming to a screeching halt. Russia and China are the new masters of the universe, and SCO member nations are well-protected and ready for encroaching NATO troops.

  • rainierwolfcastle

    is this the same country that has never publicly admitted having nukes?

  • c1ue

    A key tell will be Pistachios. Ever since the Iran hostage crisis and subsequent sanctions, the Sinclair family has taken over the pistachio niche in the United States. They control 60% of all pistachios grown in the US, and it will be interesting to see how their pistachios compete vs. Iranian ones (traditionally, Iranian pistachios have dominated that niche in the world). The Sinclairs became billionaires from buying tens of thousands of acres of former Bakersfield oil land and converting them to pistachio farms. You might also know their products ranging from Pom to Fiji water.

  • magouyu

    Iran would not have signed the deal without confirmed backing from Russia and China on various other issues like defense and technology. China and Russia would not have endorsed this deal had their interests not being significant. So the biggest winners will in fact be China, Russia and Iran itself. And this will further enhance Central Asian diplomacy and prosperity. A great victory. And its not Kerry-led. Or American-led. It may only be seen pr publicized as an American led initiative but the true brokers are Russia and China behind the scenes with the Iranians themselves.

  • pairadimes

    Pull the other one, it has bells on it.

  • didi

    Our Senate has its share of dodo’s but what is the alternative? It is not very long ago that matters of peace and war were decided by one person only either king, emperor, or sultan. Is that what we need to go back to?

    I think that a major objective of President Obama was to get Mr. Netanyahu off his back. That has not yet happened but the first step has been taken. Mr. Netanyahu will look increasingly obstreperous and isolated when the IAEA reports start coming in. In other words a Middle Eastern King Canute.

  • didi

    There are several examples of what may happen if the Senate does not ratify even after a presidential veto. One was the SOFA-Iraq2008 agreement signed by President Bush II. It was never submitted to the Senate. It had a run time of 4 years. The international community did not care whether our Senate had or had not ratified. It considered Bush’s signature binding on our nation. That became evident when President Obama tried to prolong that agreement past 2012 but failed. He realized that the UN would not accept an excuse “but it was not ratified by our Senate”. In fact, had President Obama kept our Armed Forces in Iraq without renewal of SOFA-Iraq that would have been considered an act of war by the UN Security Council. President Obama might have vetoed resolution that but the damage to our credibility would have been enormous.

  • GKStudent

    Hi Toma. I do not mean to detract from you conversation. But, I’m trying to come up with a communication between fellow Catholic Faithful with Disqus membership. Is there a way to contact a member directly?

  • Ted Carr

    What would change the forces and relationships in Eurasia, more than any other development, would be the establishment of a nation in the Levant from parts of present day Syria and Iraq that would guarantee first class status to all its citizens and visitors.
    This might be a real possibility, with real solid chances of being realized.

    The Kurds are hoping to build a nation out of present day Iraq (which is steadily heading toward partition), and in the not too distant future ISIL will be removed from Syria and Iraq, while the longevity of the Assad regime is foreseeably short.
    From the shambles of Syria and parts of Iraq one nation inclusive of Kurds, Alawis, Shiite Arabs, Turkmen, Yazidis, Sunni Arabs, and others, is potentially birthable and survivable.

    Turkey has allegedly been assisting ISIL out of fear that a new Kurdish nation in Iraq and Syria would incite separatist Kurds in Turkey, yet if the new nation were not a Kurdish nation exclusively, but instead a nation that guarantees first class citizenship to all its people, that fear would dwindle.

    The history of the Levant is of Empire, one after another, until the last hundred years when separate sovereign nations have been tried, and they are failing. They fail to keep the peace within and among themselves because they fail to guarantee first class citizenship to their peoples.

    As things have been in the Levant, with citizens who have relations in neighboring countries, the injustices committed by one government instills a sense of vengeance in its neighboring countries, and not only within its own borders.
    Thus instability is always a rumor away.
    Thus we should only expect more destabilization in each Levantine nation, and that destabilization to leak into an ever shrinking world.
    Thus it is time to think ‘outside the box’ of nations based upon ethnicity, and turn toward other models that have proven that stability is had by guaranteeing each citizen be granted first class rights, privileges, and status in their own homelands and homes.

    This idea I am suggesting is a tremendous project which would require the commitment of the United Nations to be the doctor who helps this birth and the godparent who shelters the new nation until is gets past the brutal objections of those who desire ethic and religious sovereignty rather than the sovereignty of human beings.

    I dread that to try to continue to try to sustain Syria and Iraq as they are will be a grief filled undertaking. Those who try preserve these two doomed nations are more like undertakers than doctors

  • Time will tell is far to controversial.