Iran’s most crucial three weeks in 30 years

The final and intensified nuclear negotiations kicked off on July 2 and they are supposed to last until July 20

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
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In just 18 days, the future of Iranian-American relations will be specified at the historical negotiations held between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations, plus Germany.

The issue of reaching a permanent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program can also be considered as the international community’s acceptance to include the Islamic Republic among its ranks. Reaching an agreement is tantamount to a very important step for Iranian diplomacy as this agreement would not only greatly contribute to settling the nuclear issue but will also pave the way for Iran to be considered as an important member among international powers.

The final and intensified nuclear negotiations kicked off on July 2 and they are supposed to last until July 20. A temporary agreement was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group six months ago in an attempt to narrow the gap between both parties in order to seal a permanent agreement during these six months or to extend this duration or not reach an agreement.

If negotiators cannot commit

If negotiators cannot commit to the specified date of these nuclear talks, it’s possible to extend the duration to a few weeks or six months at maximum. This depends on what the meetings held in Vienna for three weeks will result in. The U.S. has sent a large delegation to Vienna - a delegation that consists of 15 members headed by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. Both the U.S. and Iran - who are keen on reaching an agreement during these three weeks - are probably aware of the difficulties they may face if the duration is extended for few more months or if talks fail.


Reaching a final agreement may improve the Iranian economy and will help lift the imposed sanctions on Iran

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

The negotiations’ failure will provide the conservatives - whether in Iran or the U.S. - and the opponents of these developments with the opportunity to carry out maneuvers that do not serve the talks and threaten future talks. The failure of talks without the possible extension of the time duration may push Iran to manufacture a nuclear bomb (despite its permanent denial that its nuclear program aims to manufacture a nuclear bomb) and the U.S. will also have no other choice but launch an attack against Iran.

American President Barack Obama has previously clarified that the failure of talks will lead them down the path to war.

Reaching a final agreement may improve the Iranian economy and will help lift the imposed sanctions on Iran and improve its regional political affairs. Thus things will be in the interest of those who want change.

For example, the efficient and responsible member who belongs to the international community will not secretly send a militia to Syria or Iraq. We can see that the current policy adopted by Iran towards Iraq highlights Iran’s desire to alter its policy in case settling the nuclear program goes well.

Adopted American diplomacy

The adopted American diplomacy shows that that the local political behavior of governments does not represent huge importance for the U.S. as much as these government’s behavior on the foreign level does. In the Iranian case, what mainly concerns the U.S. is to stop Iran’s intervention in regional struggles and have Iran become a responsible member of the international community.

If they succeed at reaching an agreement, President Obama will have convincing evidence of the efficiency of the diplomatic tool. Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani can present the hardliners with convincing evidence that the style he’s adopted of resorting to talks and diplomacy has actually worked, unless what Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has always said that he’s “not optimistic regarding the talks.” Some in Iran understand how critical these historical talks are. An example is Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who before talks kicked off in Vienna published a message on YouTube saying: “During the three upcoming weeks, we have a unique opportunity to make history to end this unnecessary crisis that has distracted us from addressing together our common challenges such as the horrifying events of the past few weeks in Iraq.”

This way, Zarif has granted the U.S. a direct message that stipulates granting Iran the opportunity to return to the international community and then the door can be open to discuss other regional issues.

Now, the whole thing is considered in Iran’s hands and the U.S. must commit to encouraging calm during these three weeks and do something that history records. On the morning of July 3 as Zarif was in Vienna, he published a message on Facebook addressing the Iranians. He said: “It’s difficult to predict the results of these negotiations. Don’t take the ideas broadcast by Western media outlets seriously. We are doing our best. All you have to do is pray for us and support us during the holy month of Ramadan.”

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July 7, 2014.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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