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January 27, 2010 |  6 comments |  Print  Your Research  

MA Thesis: Implications of a Nuclear Iran

Antonio Buttitta: Iran is the only country in the Middle East that can not be challenged by Western powers without risking a severe unbalancing of global economies or an all out decent into war - a prospect that would be ultimately unsuccessful for all involved. Instead, rapid diplomacy must lead to effective negotiations, based on a new scheme.

In the sphere of relations between the West and the Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Iran's pursuit of nuclear capacity has always had an important position. The balance in the Middle East is extremely delicate, and both Western governments and international organizations have not always shown the sufficient capability to deal with such a complex and in many aspects still unpredictable system.

From an historical point of view, it can be argued that Western countries ever since have tried to spread their influence in Iran. There are two reasons that justify this enormous interest. Firstly, Iran has a remarkable geopolitical position. Iran is at the crossroads between Asia and the Middle East, it has access to the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, and is protected by the Strait of Hormutz, whose strategic role is undisputed. Secondly, Western countries, such as the United States of America, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, have always shown a strong interest toward Iranian oil resources.

In the first chapter, a necessary historical background will be provided, in order to find out the roots of the lack of dialogue and to define the distance between the Islamic Republic and the rest of the world.

Although the Western interest is strong, it has often been in conflict with the Iranian perception of foreign presence. On one hand, Western countries have tried to establish their presence in Iran and across its borders, but on the other hand, Iran has shown a growing diffidence toward the Western approach. This diffidence became reciprocal, and is now made of strong mistrust. Longstanding issues and misunderstandings afflict reciprocal perceptions, and the cover of a positive path, although desirable, is not easy.

The second chapter aims at defining the geopolitical consequences of Iranian nuclear capacity, both from a domestic and a regional point of view.
As far as the consequences of these developments are concerned, the third and the fourth chapters will provide some possible scenarios.

It is commonly known that there are enormous interests at stake, and that the relationship between Iran and the rest of the world is based both on a flexible sequence of possible options and a rigid unavailability toward concessions. From a diplomatic point of view, the agents of the two sides have for a very long time demonstrated their ability to drag on the matter, avoiding serious openings that can represent a true intention to solve their problems. The situation is made more difficult by the action of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran perceives its position as weak and is very suspicious of foreign moves. However, no pressure can be exerted on Iran, without causing enormous imbalances in the hydrocarbons' world market and consequently perturbing practically all economies in the world.

The war in Iraq has shown a limit in Western approach toward the Middle East. Along with the difficult management of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the situation in Lebanon, and the search for terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq has shown that the Western powers cannot control everything, at least, not in such a way. Iran, today, seems to be a country that cannot be challenged. It is, probably, the sole country in the Middle East that will not surrender to threats or sanctions. The starting point, this time, is a stalemate.

Two options are still on the table. The first one comes from a degeneration of the international situation and ends in a war. This is extremely dangerous both from a military and humanitarian point of view. In the third chapter this features will be broadened, and it will be shown how, in the end, none of the military options will prove to have a successful outcome for any player.

The second is far more difficult, and consists in a rapid and successful diplomatic opening that can lead to an effective negotiation. The fourth chapter goes beyond the rigid positions of the two sides, and analyzes their underlying interests, demonstrating how the negotiations so far have been unsuitable, and how a different negotiation scheme can be applied.
It seems that new balances are going to emerge, and that a new and different approach will be required.

Antonio Buttitta is a Conciliator at the Chamber of Commerce of Agrigento, Italy.

 
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January 31, 2010

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Iran is an old civilization and also a country with one of the oldest democratic systems in the Middle East. Life expectancy is about 71 years, and literacy about 85-90%. School enrollment is 100%. Iran’s oil and gas reserves are known and when the logistic location of country is not so bad, better say opposite, the country has relatively good change for sustainable development even more regional superpower than it is today. Iran’s ruling system can be criticized especially due the powerful role of non elected institutions in the whole. Even the system is far away from western democratic ideals I however see existing system more democratic than in most other Middle East or Arabic countries – the long time allies of US.


The western powers see military dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Program as thread. One could sometimes consider Iran’s weaponisation activities also from Iranian point of view. In 1953 the Americans toppled their democratically-elected, pro-western government to gain control of their oil reserves. USA re-instated the Shah on his throne, then kept order via the dreaded Savak (security police) with ruthless repression for over a quarter-century. After the Islamic Revolution, during the 80’s, USA gave aid to Iraq and armed Saddam Hussein e.g with chemical weapons to use them on Iranians. After 1980, the USA has been trying to find a means to get Iran back under its thumb, to control their resources, and install a puppet government. Hated by some its neighbours and some superpowers, isolated and weak, it is easy to understand that Nuclear Weapons can be considered as necessary insurance policy in hostile environment.

Already years some western NGOs in countries like Iran that have been targeted for destabilization. On May 27, 2007, the London Telegraph independently reported: “Mr. Bush has signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a propaganda and disinformation campaign intended to destabilize, and eventually topple, the theocratic rule of the mullahs.”


From my point of view Iran has the same right to develop its nuclear program for civil and military purposes as all the other states. Iran isn’t doing anything else than USA, Soviet Union/Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, South Africa and North Korea haven’t already done. Sure Iran’s programs have been implemented clandestine, but so is the case with all others too.

During last year some “new” information pieces (Iran has already bomb, tests of modern missiles, secret Qom nuclear facility, Ahmadinejad still in power) are indicating that the Americans and Israelis are preparing the public for war. This would be the worst scenario. Now it is time to make u-turn in western politics towards Iran. Iran finally may even be ready to make a deal. Iran’s leadership may have achieved much of what it set out to accomplish when it stepped up its clandestine nuclear program in 1999. In contentious, high-stakes negotiations, deals are possible when both sides have a chance to declare victory, and that point may have been reached.

More e.g. from my articles “Iran's nuclear program at the Crossroads”
http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/irans-nuclear-program-at-...
and “Iran-no revolution but potential Change anyway”
http://arirusila.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/iran-no-revolution-but-po...
 
Antonio  Buttitta

February 4, 2010

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Dear Sir,
Thank You for Yor comment, from which I understand that the subject is interesting and that it might stimulate an open debate.

However, as the Iranian Nuclear issue is extremely delicate, I have to express my disagreement on some points of your article.

Firstly, Iran is as You say, " Hated by some its neighbours". Yes, but mainly because it is a Persian, Shiite, Farsi speaking power in the Sunni Arab heartland disposing of the right means to get (in theory) primacy in the Middle East.
You also add that Iran is " Isolated and weak". This is due to the western action, taking it roots in a long colonial history... but I do not agree with the statement "Nuclear Weapons can be considered as necessary insurance policy in hostile environment." Nuclear energy, in fact, has a broader meaning, and stating that it is sought only for these purposes might detect superficiality.You will find all of its features in my document, at page 85.

Secondly, You write that "From my point of view Iran has the same right to develop its nuclear program for civil and military purposes as all the other states." In my opinion this is not necessarely so, mainly because the issue is so delicate that reasoning in terms of law, right and wrong, will not get to the poiny, or, how You call it, to the "U-Turn" in policies. As the issue is delicate, schemes tied to right and international law, in my analysis, are avoided. I have focused my attention on negotial strategies that may implement a dialogue. In this sense, putting aside legal concepts is key. You will find the reasons of this statement in the fourth chapter.

Thirdly, I agree when You say that war "Would be the worst scenario", but I do not feel that, so far, as You say, " “new” information pieces (Iran has already bomb, tests of modern missiles, secret Qom nuclear facility, Ahmadinejad still in power) are indicating that the Americans and Israelis are preparing the public for war." On the opposite, I believe that the Obama Administration is making a peace effort, and that war is not an option, so far. Policymakers (not only in Washington) are absolutely aware of the meanings and costs of a new crisis in the region. Waiting for the development of the domestic situation is wiser than stepping in. Respecting a country means respecting internal changes, especially when these are lead by people.

Finally, You say that "Iran finally may even be ready to make a deal. Iran’s leadership may have achieved much of what it set out to accomplish when it stepped up its clandestine nuclear program in 1999. In contentious, high-stakes negotiations, deals are possible when both sides have a chance to declare victory, and that point may have been reached."
Absolutely not, Sir. Negotiation is not about winning. Negotiation is about creating value. This statement is not mine, albeit it strongly belongs to me, now.

I am sure that in the thesis You will find many interesting concepts that will further explain the points of my answer.

Best Regards

Antonio Buttitta.
 
Unregistered User

February 9, 2010

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This discussion about Iran is indeed welcome. It points to the many complex factors underlying past and present approaches to western sanctions and nuclear diplomacy. It could be added that Iran's need to respond to internal problems is an everpresent consideration.

The country has a youthful, western-leaning population. It also has the broadest use of the internet in the Middle East outside of Israel. However, Iran's supply of oil, its major economic component, is not reaching internal needs and constitutencies. Gasoline is often rationed in suburban and rural areas. Moreover, inflation is listed as ca. 18% while outside experts, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, place inflation at 30% or higher.

Further, the current Iranian administration still faces a strong political opposition. The domestic situation in Iran may therefore remain as an important ingredient when sanctions leading towards negotiations are considered.. In this sense, the provision of a focus on domestic nuclear energy needs, not only on the production of nuclear weaponry, might emerge as a critical talking point.
 
Antonio  Buttitta

February 11, 2010

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I find myself in agreement with the thought of Mrs. Ann H. Sontz.

I do not want to be provocative, but I believe that interests at stake, this time, are very high. This is the reason why, from a Humanitarian point of view, any aggressive action should be avoided. The last time Western Countries fought an enemy endowed with "weapons of mass distruction", they had a bad surprise in discovering that those weapons were not there.

This "thing", this "affair", is about people. People who, according to some analysts, are suffering from the regime's oppression, but might suffer tomorrow from a foreign invasion.
Waiting for a domestic solution of a domestic issue is an option not to be discarderd.
Secondly, a parallel negotiation with real summits and a real dialogue is necessary. After all, there are many interest behind Iran's interest towards nuclear energy. Along with a supposed (even if declared) direct action against Israel, there are the economic and energetic reasons, the need for international prestige, higher negotial power, exit from isolation...
All of these goals can be achieved through a cooperation, albeit gradual, with the West. New sanctions are not going to push Iran to make a U-turn. On the opposite, they are hitting the population. I believe that a real dialogue between Iran and the West shall be based upon broader cooperation in cultural, economic and social fields. Then, avoiding threats would be a good idea. Softening the tones might lead to a spiral of trust on which the two parties can build up a negotial structure.

How do Western countries pretend to negotiate with other countries by imposing solutions and "packages" ? Is not there any other way ? Can we imagine a negotiation based on " no trust basis?" Would it be a good agreement, the one issued from such a diplomacy ? Or the problem would come again in a short time ?
I believe that for Iran the risk of a direct confrontation with western countries is unsustainable. Moreover, the value Iran is seeking is not necessary out of reach, in the sense that a good agreement might satisfy expectations that Iran directly links to nuclear power, but that are not necessary unattainable using different (cooperative) devices.

Thirdly, the collapse of the whole situation, which is still an option, cannot be excluded. But I personally wish it came after all diplomatic efforts were made.
Tags: | Iran | nuclear ambitions | negotiations |
 
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March 6, 2010

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Obviously the only way to completely eradicate nuclear attack threats worldwide is total nuclear diarmament with no exception throughout the world.

Such nuclear disarmament may need to be based on a prior international treaties to be undertaken by all countries without exception to give up their rights to make nuclear arms altogether and permanently.

Otherwise I am personally rather afraid that a Nuclear World War may spring up needlessly on the spur of the moment just because of some countries’ interests in nuclear power based on whatever excuse they may have. After all though the present excuses for stocking nukes center around for ‘defensive purposes’, it has been observed over and over again that it is the countries with nuclear power who have been the most aggressive over the last few decades.

I think there ought to be a better way to achieve a peaceful world order. It seems to me to be rather ironical to keep on escalating to make nuclear weaponry for which there does not seem to be an ending point.

I must re-iterate that there ought to be a better way than prohibiting certain countries to have nuclear power to reach and preserve a peaceful world order.

Thanks,
Mustafa
 
Antonio  Buttitta

March 10, 2010

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In my opinion total nuclear disarmament is utopia.
(especially in a world where some countries ask for some other countries to be expelled out of the United Nations).

Treaties are useful when drafted and respected on the basis of universal will.

None of my articles or interventions contains any suggestion to prohibition.
I am for promotion of dialogue.

Peace comes from mutual respect and trust.

Any other behaviour will lead to one of the following:

prevalence of one power on the others or
mistrust and fear. (then dangerous reactions)

Please, read my paragraph on the "Path of trust and path of mistrust".

Antonio Buttitta
 

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