BERLIN – After 12 years of tedious negotiations, Iran and the “P5+1” countries (China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, plus Germany) have reached a comprehensive agreement that will limit Iran’s development of its nuclear capabilities to non-military objectives. In exchange for its cooperation, Iran will eventually be relieved of the punishing sanctions that the United Nations, the European Union, and the US have imposed upon it for years. This is a huge diplomatic success.
Of course, the negotiations have attracted plenty of critics, including in the US Congress and Iran’s parliament, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and even France. But the agreement’s potential benefits cannot be denied.
For starters, the deal proves that world leaders – despite being divided on a multitude of issues, such as the conflict in Ukraine and territorial disputes in the South China Sea – can still come together to resolve a shared problem. It will also make nuclear proliferation in the Middle East less likely, while strengthening the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. And it will allow for the normalization of Iran’s relations with the West.
Of course, Iran’s neighbors have legitimate concerns about the impact the deal will have on the regional balance of power. As sanctions are lifted, Iran will become stronger, challenging the influence of the Gulf States. Anticipating this, these states have already sought reassurances from the US, while following a more hard-nosed policy in Yemen or Syria, where they consider themselves to be containing Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.