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The nuclear deal and Iran’s wasted opportunities

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

Ever since negotiations between the West and Iran headed toward reaching a deal, many saw it as a victory for Tehran and its patience and persistence. It is not an Iranian victory, however, as it backed down from its nuclear military program and pledged not to return to it for at least 15 years, during which time there will be international monitoring of its facilities. Some will be monitored by cameras 24 hours per day.

In pursuit of its nuclear program, Tehran wasted 20 years, billions of dollars and massive economic opportunities. In the end, it agreed to limit the program to peaceful purposes - this could have been achieved under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) without all that suffering and loss. Iran can only try to resume its original plan of a nuclear military capability in 2030 - does the regime think it will be easy to do so, and that it will stay in power until then?

Iran is talking about the massive economic opportunities that the nuclear deal will yield, but for a quarter of a century it was blind to domestic and regional opportunities.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Its project was one of the biggest political and nationalistic failures in modern history. The regime was deprived of the ability to develop its industrial and petroleum capabilities. Meanwhile, it deprived its citizens of a decent life, even though Iran has more resources than affluent countries such as its Arab Gulf neighbors.

It is reminiscent of Saddam Hussein claiming he wanted a massive military to protect Iraq, when in fact he wanted to expand and dominate. This cost him everything, including his post and life. Iran displayed the same stubbornness during its bloody war with Iraq in the 1980s. In the end, both sides retreated and agreed to stop the war and bloodshed.

Regional influence

Unfortunately, Tehran has yet to face reality. Its hardliners still think the way they did in 1979. Iran is a huge country with a population of 80 million and massive economic capabilities, so it does not need arms to bolster its status.

If it had chosen the path of co-existence with its neighbors and focused on developing science and economics, it would have been able to dominate the region in those fields, as many of the world’s developed countries have done. Iran is talking about the massive economic opportunities that the nuclear deal will yield, but for a quarter of a century it was blind to domestic and regional opportunities.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 21, 2016.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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