US allies in the Middle East lose too much from agreement with Iran
The difficult situation in the Middle East described in the article “Unshakable determination to attack the rake” will be additionally affected by the preliminary agreement on the Iranian nuclear program concluded in Lausanne, Switzerland. Moreover, the situation can both improve and sharply worsen.
At the moment, not all the details of the preliminary agreements on Iran’s nuclear program are known. In addition, it is necessary to clearly understand that the final agreement has not yet been signed, this should happen only by the end of June, and before the appointed time many different events will happen that, quite possibly, will radically change the situation. Nevertheless, the main conclusions can be drawn now.
About heavy water and dry residue
The Joint Comprehensive Nuclear Program Action Plan, agreed at Lausanne, reaffirmed Iran’s right to operate in the nuclear field. The work will continue with nuclear centers in Isfahan and Natanz, an enterprise in Fordo, and a heavy water nuclear reactor in Arak. The plan guarantees Tehran the right to produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale for further use at the country's nuclear power plants. The only uranium enrichment plant will remain the Natanz plant. It will store over 5000 centrifuges. At the same time, Tehran will commit itself to reduce its enriched uranium reserves by 98 percent in ten years. Uranium enrichment is limited to 3,76 percent, that is, for civilian purposes only. The Fordo plant will be used as a center for research in nuclear physics and technology. In Arak, the design of the heavy water reactor will be amended in accordance with modern advanced technologies so that it cannot produce weapons plutonium. From now on, the installation will be used only for peaceful scientific purposes, including for the production of radioisotopes. The remaining heavy water should be sold by Iran to the international market. New capacities for its operation in the country will not appear. Iran, as a gesture of goodwill, demonstrating the openness of its nuclear program, agreed to voluntarily and provisionally implement the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The NPT prohibits Iran from creating nuclear weapons and provides for IAEA verification on Iranian territory. IAEA representatives will gain access to any nuclear facilities in Iran. Two-thirds of the 19 Iranian centrifuges are suspended for ten years. For 15 years, Tehran has refrained from building new enrichment facilities and heavy water reactors. IAEA inspections will continue for 25 years. Representatives of the Iranian delegation agreed to export most of the enriched uranium.
It is assumed that the sanctions against Iran will be terminated within a year after the signing of the final agreement, although it is possible that this will happen faster. According to representatives of Tehran, the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be lifted immediately after signing. The process of lifting one-sided Western embargos will certainly be longer.
The United States regards what happened as its major diplomatic victory, as the American president stated. “Thanks to our diplomatic efforts, the world has become shoulder to shoulder with us and at the negotiating table we have been joined by the leading powers of the world: the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as the European Union,” Obama said, recognizing that “Iran performs all obligations. He destroyed his stockpiles of hazardous nuclear materials. Inspections of the Iranian program have become more frequent. And we continued negotiations to find out whether a more comprehensive deal could be achieved. ” The American president believes that Iran has agreed to an unprecedentedly tight inspection regime. “The deal is not based on trust,” Obama said. - It relies on unprecedented verification. If Iran starts to cheat, the world will know about it. If we notice something suspicious, we will inspect it. ”
All interested countries, including Iran’s obvious enemies (Turkey and the Arabian monarchies), officially welcomed the agreement, although many cautioned against excessive euphoria, noting that it was necessary to wait for the final document to be signed. The only exception was Israel. His government opposed the agreement, stating that it threatened the existence of the Jewish state, since it would not close Iran’s road to building a bomb, but would only ease the path to it.
Already, the parties interpret the future agreement in different ways, emphasizing those parties that are beneficial to them. The United States and other Western countries are focusing on a significant limitation of the enrichment capacity of Iran and on strengthening control over its nuclear sphere. Tehran draws attention to the fact that its right to the development of nuclear technologies is officially recognized, and all facilities will continue to function.
Tit in the hands and its beneficiaries
At the moment, it is difficult to determine who has won more and who has lost from the agreements (even if we forget that the final documents are not signed). The answer to this question depends on whether Iran was really going to create nuclear weapons. He himself categorically denies it, there is really no direct confirmation of the existence of such plans. Although Iran is actively developing ballistic missiles, not only tactical, but also OTR and MRBD. It is well known that the longer the missile’s range, the less sense it is to place a simple warhead on it. If OTR in the usual equipment is still advisable to create, then MRBD with such a warhead is nonsense, here you need a nuclear charge. In addition, Tehran’s geopolitical ambitions are very large, and at least nuclear weapons will not interfere with their implementation. In addition, it could serve as a strong deterrent against aggression by the United States and / or Israel, not to mention the Arabian monarchies. On the other hand, an attempt to create a nuclear weapon provokes aggression from all of Tehran’s listed enemies. That is the question is extremely ambiguous.
If Iran was not going to create a nuclear weapon, then it definitely benefits from the current agreements, it does not even require an explanation. If he intended, he would rather lose, because now the solution to the problem is at least postponed indefinitely, if not forever. True, Tehran gets a “bird in the hand” in the form of getting rid of sanctions, including in the sphere of military-technical cooperation. The acquisition of conventional modern weapons and military equipment can more than compensate for the absence of nuclear weapons, which, firstly, is extremely difficult to create - success is not guaranteed, and secondly, it is almost impossible to use in real combat operations.
For the United States, the signing of agreements will be primarily a propaganda-political achievement, very useful for Obama and his party in light of the upcoming election campaign. The practical result is the prevention of the Iranian nuclear threat, if one really existed. In addition, direct coordination between Washington and Tehran in the struggle against the caliphate becomes possible (they are now fighting against the common enemy separately, which does not contribute to efficiency). However, the situation in Yemen, where the United States and Iran, while not directly participating in the war, support the opposite sides of the conflict, is becoming an obstacle to this.
In addition, both for the United States and for the EU countries, in the event of a complete lifting of sanctions against Tehran, direct economic cooperation with Iran in various fields becomes possible.
For China, the possibilities of economic and military-technical cooperation are expanding, and besides, Iran can become the most important transit country in implementing the most significant project for the People's Republic of China of the New Silk Road. Therefore, for Beijing, the conclusion of an agreement will be an event that is unambiguously positive, although Iran’s nuclear program itself did not have any meaning for it.
Russia made a very significant contribution to the signing of preliminary agreements, which was noted even by officials in Washington, despite the extremely tense relations with Moscow. The settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue and the lifting of sanctions against Iran offer Russia great opportunities. Moscow and Tehran have plans for further cooperation in the Bushehr nuclear power plant, that is, the construction by Russia of its second and third blocks. The program up to 2025 of the year implies cooperation of the two countries in the Caspian Sea in fisheries, extensive cooperation in the space sector, agriculture and telecommunications, as well as in finance and engineering. In addition, Iran can become a country through which the North-South transport corridors will pass (Russia-Azerbaijan or Russia-Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan with access via Iran to the Persian Gulf).
Andrei Sedykh collage
Undoubtedly, considerable attention will be paid to Russian-Iranian military-technical cooperation. Of course, in the event of a complete lifting of the sanctions, Tehran will be able to acquire weapons also in China and European countries. However, the Europeans will in any case experience US pressure (even after the formal normalization of relations, the Anglo-Saxons will not sell weapons to Iran), the Chinese technology cannot always arrange Tehran in terms of quality (although it will certainly be the cheapest). Therefore, it is almost certain that Russia will become the main (although not the only) supplier of military equipment for Iran. Apparently, first of all, one way or another, the issue with C-300 will be resolved, then Tehran will be able to purchase practically all classes of equipment from Russia. Although the Iranian Armed Forces are very numerous, they require a total rearmament, since almost all of the equipment they have is seriously outdated. Accordingly, prospects for potential arms sellers for Tehran are great. Not excluded the implementation of projects licensed production of Russian military equipment in Iran.
It is quite possible military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran to jointly fight against the Islamic caliphate, and in the long run against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Although it is difficult to imagine direct joint operations now, it is impossible to exclude such an option in the future, since the situation in the Middle East has an obvious tendency to aggravation. Conducting joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries, as well as the exchange of information and experience in the fight against Sunni radicals, are real now.
The problem for Russia could be a serious drop in oil prices in the event of a complete lifting of sanctions against Iran and, accordingly, its full-fledged market entry. However, this question is extremely ambiguous. In fact, Iran, despite Western sanctions, never stopped exporting oil, almost all of it went to Asia. Although Iranian officials say they can double shipments compared to the current level, this is very doubtful both from a technical and logistic point of view. Moreover, Iran itself is not at all interested in a significant drop in oil prices. Moreover, the factor of the possible lifting of sanctions from Tehran is likely to be won back by the oil market even before this happens. Although it is impossible to make firm predictions here, a fall in prices in the event of Iran’s full-fledged access to the Western oil market is unlikely to exceed five dollars per barrel, which is unpleasant, but not fatal. Thus, for Russia, the settlement of the Iranian nuclear problem is definitely positive.
The regional opponents of Iran - Turkey and the Arabian monarchies led by the KSA are the losers in this situation. For these countries, Iran is a very strong economic competitor (not only in the hydrocarbon market), a political rival and a military adversary. Strengthening Iran for all these countries is extremely undesirable. It is doubly undesirable for them to bring Tehran closer to Washington, which essentially takes place at the expense of Ankara, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and others. The situation is especially painful for Turkey and the monarchies in the light of the fact that they are now waging an indirect war with Iran in Syria, and now in Yemen. Accordingly, Ankara and the comrades will make every effort (primarily in the Washington corridors of power) so that the final signing of the agreement at the end of June does not take place. This will automatically turn Iran into an even more outcast outcast for the West and will ensure the imposition of additional sanctions against it. Turkey and the monarchies, in turn, will gain an advantage in the fight against Assad and the Housits. Most likely, the Saudis will soon try to expose Tehran as an instigator of war in Yemen, which should significantly worsen Iran-US relations.
The traditional ally of Turkey and monarchies lately is Israel with its paranoid hatred of Iran (apparently, this effect is primarily related to psychiatry and only secondly to geopolitics). As mentioned above, only Tel Aviv openly expressed dissatisfaction with even preliminary agreements on the Iranian nuclear program. To disrupt them, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, as you know, has already spoken before the US Congress not just without consent, but contrary to Obama’s wish, that he has no precedent in international politics and is a blatant rudeness from a diplomatic point of view. Now Tel Aviv is stepping up pressure on Washington so that the final agreement will not be signed. If the efforts do not bring success, then it cannot be ruled out. The Israeli Armed Forces will strike at Iran, which they have been talking about for many years. In this case, the most important goal will be not only and not so much the destruction of Iranian nuclear facilities, but the breakdown of agreements, and forever. There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia will provide its own airspace for the Israeli air force.
Thus, the final signing of agreements is by no means guaranteed due to the fact that he has very serious and strong opponents, as well as his own “hawks” in both Washington and Tehran. American Republicans openly declare that if they came to power in 2017, they will cancel the agreement, even if it is signed. But the current administration, represented by Secretary of State Kerry, has already hurried to reassure the Saudis and Israelis that they will not be abandoned in the face of the Iranian threat. On the other hand, Ayatollah Khamenei states that Tehran will sign the agreement only if the sanctions (at least the UN Security Council) are lifted automatically and immediately.
If the signing turns out to be disrupted, this will lead to the strongest aggravation of the situation in the Middle East and sharply increase the likelihood of a general war in the region. In this case, the main winner will obviously become the Islamic Caliphate.