Geneva November Deal Far From Closed The Geneva deal was a victory for Iran: It recognized and legitimized Iran’s rights to nuclear enrichment (open dispute still on the %), awarded a $7 Billion (actually about $20 Billion) relief in sanctions, had loopholes (Arak, 20%, 60%, centrifuges…) and gave Tehran at least six months to continue on its nuclear track at a bargain price – opening the gates (selectively) to the IAEA inspectors. It also brought Tehran back from its diplomatic isolation (and recognized it as a regional leader) and, best of all, improved Iran’s economy. The Real and stock market strengthened immediately, and talks of “post-sanction” investments and trade flourished. But now that it comes to concrete steps, the P5+1 negotiators better be prepared for two new tactics: Divide & Conquer, Good Cop – Bad Cop.
“Divide & Conquer” – “Let’s start with Russia/China”: Ali Akbar Velayati, a “Hardliner” and close adviser to Supreme Leader Khamenei, is now calling for separate talks with the P5+1 leaders. Why? “We aren’t on the right path if we don’t have one-on-one talks with the six countries… it would be wrong if we bring the countries into unity against us, since there are rifts among them over various international issues.” Tehran will try to reach agreements with Russia and/or China which will be disagreed on by the rest P5+1. Once the spotlight is off Tehran, it will have earned a legitimate retreat into the shadows…and gain more time.
“Good Cop – Bad Cop” – “The Moderates vs. The Hardliners”: The “Moderates” clearly won the first round: Within six months, President Rouhani had a nuclear deal on the table, an upbeat economy and re-opening long-closed diplomatic doors. Enter the “Hardliners”. Although, they were silenced for the first few months of Rouhani’s presidency by the people’s vote and by Khamenei himself, they aren’t silent any more. First came the “concessions” by the “Moderates”, under pressure from the “Hardliners”, through exposing the loopholes in the deal (Arak, 20% and centrifuges). Then, the “Hardliners” bypassed them by placing a “60% Uranium Enrichment” bill, currently backed by two hundred members of parliament. Now, they added two “Hardliners” into Foreign Minister Zarif’s negotiating team. They are still unidentified but described as “legal and technical experts who will be able to prevent misunderstandings by the Americans.” “Misunderstandings” such as Arak, 20%, 60%, centrifuges, perhaps. Bottom line: the P5+1 negotiating team better get used to being told “Sorry – if it was up to me, I would, but…” and, frustrated, watch as time passes by.