Dealing with Iran

PAX welcomes the negotiated agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme. Building on the framework agreed in April, this deal demonstrates diplomatic potential on one of the most contentious of contemporary issues. It shows that diplomatic persistence and patience do, eventually, find solutions.

The deal also reinforces the strength of the nuclear Non Proliferation treaty to prevent the horizontal spread of nuclear weapons; even if the NPT Review Conference was unable to agree on the pace and urgency of nuclear disarmament, the NPT supported process of negotiating solutions to questions of compliance reinforce the strength of international law on weapons of mass destruction.

In the deal, it appears that the negotiating parties US, UK, France, Russia, China, Germany, Iran and the European Union have agreed  to an expansion of April’s framework, including but not limited to:

  • Limit enrichment capabilities
  • Convert facilities
  • End plutonium production
  • Inspections and Transparency
  • Sanctions relief


And generally not to kill each other over this issue. That’s not bad really, but its important to be realistic that this doesn’t guarantee normalized relationships, or even successful partnerships in dealing with other regional security issues.

While we applaud the negotiating partners for resolving this issue without coming to direct military confrontation, there remain a number of challenges. The deal demonstrates that all parties reject the spread of nuclear weapons to new countries, but does not address the remaining threat of over 15,000 nuclear weapons, some ready to be launched in minutes. The deal does not unequivocally reject the legitimacy of nuclear weapons for all states at all times. The deal does not address the significant lack of transparency of the negotiating states- all of which have nuclear weapons on their territories (with the exception of Iran, now subject to necessarily increased transparency).  The road ahead is clear and now the really hard work begins. Even the most beautifully scripted agreements can falter during implementation, and there will be a lot of work to do to get Iran’s nuclear programme back into good standing with the international community and to lift sanctions that are smashing Iranian economic safety.

Negotiating parties should be applauded for reasserting the non-proliferation commitments under the NPT, but should also recognise their work is far from over. For over 70 years the international community has been under the threat posed by existing nuclear weapon, the subject of the first UN General Assembly resolution, and no multilateral progress has been made to make these weapons unquestionably illegal through an international treaty.

This deal is good and reinforces non proliferation efforts necessary to maintain a nuclear weapons free world. It shows that any state can be come to agreement that nuclear weapons are an unnecessary part of their security strategy – even states surrounded by and caught in the middle of geo-strategic conflicts. It shows that international organisations like the International Atomic Energy Agency, when given the time and resources to do their jobs, do their jobs well. The deal shows us that the global community does not consider nuclear weapons to be legitimate, now it’s time for the rest of those who rely on them to make the same choice.