July 23, 2015

"The Iranian Fork" — Cautious Optimism

1. The History of the Issue

2. The “Islamic State” as a Determining Factor in Iran's Revival

3. Geneva Compromise, Lausanne Hope and Unfulfilled “Deadlines”

4. “The Vienna Pact” — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA)

   4.1. The Main Positions of the JCPA on Iran's Nuclear Program

   4.2. The Main Provisions for the Lifting of Sanctions

   4.3. The Stages of the Implementation of the JCPA

   4.4. The Mechanism of Resolution of Disputes

5. The Parties' Positions

   5.1. Iran

   5.2. The USA

   5.3. China

   5.4. The EU

   5.5. Russia

   5.6. Vocal Opponents

6. General Conclusions

The “Six” of international mediators (the USA, China, Russia, France, Great Britain and Germany) and Iran after the unprecedentedly long and intensive negotiations have successfully completed the work on the final Agreement on Iran's nuclear program. As Tehran moves forward in fulfilling its obligations written in the Agreements, the EU and the USA will lift the previously imposed sanctions against it. The parties agreed to prepare and sign the final documents by June 30. However, the negotiations dragged on, and the three parties had to determine the “deadline” three times — June 30, July 7, and July 13. Only on the Viennese morning of July 14 it was reported that the sides finally came to, so to speak, a common denominator. The extremely high stakes of the negotiations managed to neutralize some fundamental differences, and some mutual distrust.

1. The History of the Issue

The world club of nuclear powers — is, by definition, a key club. At this, it is not being enlarged by accepting new members, but they try to withdraw some of its current members from it. Because everybody is well aware that some of its members, let alone those dreaming to become such, can cause grave danger. At the time, the international community managed to stop at the nuclear threshold South Africa, Libya, Iraq. In 1994, under the Budapest international guarantees, Ukraine was withdrawn from the active members of the club. Who is left? North Korea and Iran — the last in a row and most high-profile “global concerns”. By the way, while the North Korean question stands aside, the uncertainty with the Iranian issue could be the reason for the attempts of other Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt...) to get into the club. And this is a new, unpredictable spiral of the nuclear arms race! What can be worse in the Middle East?

Iran's “nuclear countdown” began in 1957, when it signed an Agreement with the United States on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. In 1960, the USA helped Iran to create the Nuclear Research Center at the University of Tehran with the acting 5-megawatt reactor, given to it in 1967. Soon, China built a 27-megawatt reactor, and for the 1,300-megawatt reactor the equipment was supplied by Germany. In the 1970s, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) operated a training program for Iranian specialists in nuclear energy, and agreements were reached with German and French companies to build new reactors. In 1974, Tehran joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, involving the inspection of nuclear facilities by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At that time, the plans of the Iranian nuclear program envisaged the construction of 23 nuclear reactors capable of producing 23 thousand MW of electricity.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution and the Iran-Iraq war that followed, most of Tehran's nuclear projects were “frozen”. Until the 2000s, the international community was not particularly concerned with the state (the development) of Iran's nuclear arsenal, with the exception of the United States, introducing unilateral sanctions (1979, 1987, and 1996). However, after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Iran's nuclear potential attracted the world's attention, especially with regard to the possibility of Iran's developing its own nuclear weapons. Since 2002, the United States, Israel, the EU, the IAEA, and since 2006 also the UN started to practice unilateral and multilateral sanctions in response to Iran's refusal to stop works on enrichment of uranium. The sanctions were imposed not only on Iranian companies working in the nuclear energy sector, but also on the banks, a variety of state-owned companies, institutions and individuals. And in 2010 almost complete economic blocking of Iran began.

2. The “Islamic State” as a Determining Factor in Iran's Revival

The basis of the Iranian identity and influence in the region has always been religious factor, and Shiites throughout the Middle East have traditionally focused on Tehran

The basis of the Iranian identity and influence in the region has always been religious factor, and Shiites throughout the Middle East have traditionally focused on Tehran. On the “chessboard” of the region there appeared two opposing “axis”: the “Shiite” one led by Iran (Iran, part of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, Bahrain) and the “Sunni” one, led by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The revival of the former Iranian influence in the region began with the intensification of fighting by the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL; hereinafter — the “Islamic State” — IS). Radical Islamist Sunni groups of the IS in their quest to create the orthodox Sunni Islamic state launched fighting in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Among the main enemies are Shiite Muslims. Then, using the weakness of the Iraqi government in the fight against the IS' insurgents, based on the ruling elite of Syria, Iran has increased by a huge ratio its influence in these and other countries of the region. At the same time in combat were trained the new units of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Prior to that, on an ongoing basis the IRGC's units had been only in Lebanon, Palestine (Bekaa Valley) and Syria, where they had been taking part in the hostilities, the officers of the corps acting as instructors.

Today, Iran is actively present in the four capitals of the region: Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa and Beirut, and, respectively, on the part of the territories of these countries. In Baghdad, Tehran's strong position has been formed since the time of the Iraq-US company. In Damascus, active contacts with the Alawite ruling elite in power (only thanks to Iran's help) and Tehran's close relationship with Yemeni Houthis allows Iran to be present in Sanaa too. Although in this case it is paradoxical, because there are much more reasons to consider Syrian Alawites and Yemeni Houthis the Sunnis than the Shiites. Control of part of Lebanon is carried out by “Hezbollah” (created with Iran's direct participation), which has replaced most of the Lebanese state institutions in the territories under its control.

Political organizations of Iran and pro-Iranian media are very active in other countries of the Middle East (the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and others). Thus, to “extinguish the fire in the Middle East” — the IS' Islamists' successful actions in the region — and to ensure stability in the region, the United States and the world community do need a powerful partner. Against the background of the existing informal coordination of actions in the fight against militants of the IS, such a partner can be Iran which has started returning its former influence. This factor became decisive in the whole negotiation process.

3. Geneva Compromise, Lausanne Hope and Unfulfilled “Deadlines”

The real search for compromise between the international community and Iran became possible with the new President of Iran Hassan Rouhani coming into power in June 2013

The real search for compromise between the international community and Iran became possible with the new President of Iran Hassan Rouhani coming into power in June 2013, formation of a new “ready-to-negotiate” government and signing of the Geneva Agreement in November 2013 — the “Project for Joint Actions.” The group of six or the “5 + 1” (5 nuclear powers, permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations (UN Security Council): United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — on the one hand, and the Islamic Republic of Iran — on the other, joined forces in the negotiations in order to prevent further use of the Iranian nuclear program for military purposes. It negotiations were also involved other representatives of the international community — the IAEA and the UN. The defrost of some Iranian foreign financial assets that followed in 2014, the gradual crossing out from the sanctions list of some Iranian companies and regular consultations between the negotiating parties, have raised hope for a peaceful settlement of the issue — signing of an international agreement, lifting of sanctions and Iran's getting rid of the international isolation.

From March 26 to April 2, 2015, in Lausanne, there were held negotiations between Iran and the “six” mediators. A fundamental understanding was achieved on key issues of the Iranian nuclear program. The parties designated the basic provisions thanks to which a pre-compromise was achieved: Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful by nature; Tehran limits its uranium enrichment program in exchange for the cancellation of international sanctions; most of Iran's uranium will be taken away abroad; Iran will reduce the number of centrifuges to 6,000; the only uranium enrichment plant will be that in Natanz, and the plant in Fordo will be converted into the Research Center for Nuclear Physics; IAEA experts will have access to all nuclear facilities in the country; the US, EU and UN sanctions will be lifted after the official conclusion of the Agreement on Iran's nuclear program, the signing of which was scheduled for June 30, 2015.

Thus, in Lausanne the sides reaffirmed Iran's right to develop its nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as it intends to sign the final document. The negotiators and world leaders assessed the results of the “Lausanne Negotiations” as a breakthrough /big step forward/ and great progress. At the same time, it was emphasized that all the agreements would come into force only after signing of the official Agreement.

The opponents of the Iranian nuclear program traditionally are Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey

The opponents of the Iranian nuclear program traditionally are Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. The United States considered the negotiations, primarily through the prism of the struggle against the IS, although in this case it was contrary to its main allies in the region — Israel and Saudi Arabia. Europe's interests were observed in the energy component and possibilities of diversification of hydrocarbon supplies.

It would seem that after the Lausanne the parties would be able, as planned, to have harmonized all the positions by June 30. But the closer this date was, the more clearly visible were fundamental disagreements in realization of previously reached agreements. Then it was July 7 and then July 13... The talks cannot last forever. In the end — either the agreement is signed, or each of the parties involved remains unconvinced.

The negotiations were very difficult. The parties carefully studied every detail, often further coordinating them with their leadership. There could not be trifles in such negotiations in principle. The “Six” tried not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons within the next two decades. And the Iranians wanted to preserve the ability to maintain the maximum level of development of their nuclear energy system (with the possibility of uranium enrichment) and to lift the international sanctions.

Experts in their comments determined the major issues relating to: the conditions of admission of international experts to the Iranian nuclear and especially military facilities; the order and timing of lifting of the international sanctions; lifting of the ban on exports of arms and development of its own program of ballistic long-range missiles, as well as a number of nuances to curb Iran's nuclear program.

4. “The Vienna Pact” — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA)

Iran confirms that under no circumstances it would seek to possess, develop or acquire nuclear weapons”

By the morning of July 14, in Vienna the “Six” of international mediators and Iran had finally agreed on all the parameters of the Agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. The “European Three + 3” (China, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States together with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and the Islamic Republic of Iran welcome this historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), ensuring exclusively peaceful goals of Iran's nuclear program and marking the fundamental shift in their approach to this issue. They suggest that the implementation of the plan will have an absolutely positive effect on the situation with peace and security in the region and in the world. Iran confirms that under no circumstances it would seek to possess, develop or acquire nuclear weapons” — that is how begins the main document, signed by the parties.

The JCPA includes the main text and five technical appendixes: Iran's nuclear program; the full list of all lifted sanctions and restrictive measures; the peaceful use of nuclear energy and joint civilian nuclear projects; the Statutes of the Joint Commission to address the issues arising during the implementation of the  JCPA; the procedure, timing and limitations of implementation of the Agreements. They describe in detail the mutual obligations between Tehran and the international community and a step-by-step plan for their implementation. The documents will soon be submitted to the UN Security Council for approval.

The Agreement emphasizes that the success of the JCPA will allow Iran to make full use of its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to ensure complete lifting of all the UN Security Council's sanctions, as well as of international and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program. Implementation of the JCPA will be monitored by a Joint Commission including representatives of the parties. It will deal with all issues arising during the implementation of the Plan. The IAEA is mandated to monitor and control all the events related to the nuclear program.

4.1. The Main Positions of the JCPA on Iran's Nuclear Program

  • for the first 8 years in Iran there act the agreed limits on all activities, including the research, related to uranium enrichment;
  • during 10 years Iran decommissions its IR-1 centrifuges, and at this, it will keep its enrichment facilities at Natanz within the total enrichment capacity of 5060 IR-1 centrifuges. Extra centrifuges and infrastructure associated with the process of enrichment will be stored in Natanz under IAEA control;
  • research and development in the field of uranium enrichment suggest the presence within the next 10 years only of centrifuges of IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 types, as well as abandoning the use of other technologies for splitting isotopes for uranium enrichment;
  • for 15 years, Iran is obliged to carry out activities related to uranium enrichment at the Natanz plant, while maintaining the level of uranium enrichment not exceeding 3.67 %;
  • the plant in Fordo turns into the Nuclear, Physics and Technology Research Center;
  • for 15 years, the amount of uranium reserves in the country will not exceed 300 kg of enriched to 3,67 % UF6 or its equivalents;
  • the heavy water reactor in Arak will be converted (for fuel enriched to 3.67 %) and will carry out peaceful nuclear research and production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial purposes;
  • Iran agrees to fulfill the additional protocol on guarantees with the IAEA and to implement the “roadmap” to clarify the past and present unsettled issues related to its nuclear program. The full implementation of measures of the “roadmap” should be completed by October 15, 2015, and by December 2015, the IAEA Director General will provide the Board of Governors with the final assessment on all disputed matters;
  • The IAEA will monitor the implementation of all measures related to the Iranian nuclear program, including: the IEEA's long-term presence in Iran; monitoring of the uranium ore concentrate produced in Iran for 25 years; storage and monitoring of the rotors and the centrifuge bellows for 20 years; the use of technologies, approved and certified by the IAEA; an acceptable mechanism for the IAEA's access to the objects if necessary, for 15 years.

4.2. The Main Provisions for the Lifting of Sanctions

The UN Security Council terminates all the provisions of previous resolutions on the Iranian nuclear issue;

 

The EU terminates economic and financial sanctions related to Iran's nuclear issue, at this the validity of all the provisions of the regulation, introducing all the sanctions, terminates 8 years after the date of adoption or where the IAEA comes to the extensive conclusion that all the nuclear material in Iran is used only in peaceful activities;

 

The United States lifts all the sanctions simultaneously with the confirmed by the IAEA Iran's implementation of the agreed measures related to the nuclear program. At this, the legislative actions to end the sanctions will be taken by the United States in 8 years since the date of adoption or where the IAEA comes to a broad conclusion that all the nuclear material in Iran is only used for peaceful activities.

4.3. The Stages of the Implementation of the JCPA

The Day of Finalization — the date when the negotiations are completed (July 14, 2015), followed by presentation of a Resolution confirming this Agreement, to the UN Security Council to be adopted without delay.

The Day of Adoption — the date that occurs 90 days after confirmation of this Agreement, the UN Security Council (or any earlier date set by the mutual agreement of participants of the JCPA). From this date on, the participants of the JCPA take the necessary measures and make preparations for the implementation of their obligations under the JCPA.

The Day of Implementation — the day when simultaneously with the IAEA's confirming report, the EU and the United States take the above-mentioned measures.

The Transition Day — the date 8 years after the date of adoption or the day when the IAEA Director-General submits a report, which states that the IAEA has made broad conclusion that all the nuclear material in Iran is used only for peaceful activities.

The Day of Termination of the UN Security Council's Resolution — the date when the UN Security Council's Resolution, confirming the present JCPA, ceases to act in accordance with its terms, that is, 10 years after the date of adoption, provided that the provisions of the previous resolutions were not restored.

4.4. The Mechanism of Resolution of Disputes

If any party of the signers of the JCPA believes that someone is not fulfilling its obligations, the question is passed over to the Joint Commission to resolve it within 15 days with a possible extension by common consent of the parties. Further, any discordant with the decision of the Commission may pass over the question to be studied by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who also have 15 days to resolve the issue with the possibility of extension.

After considering by these two instances, any party that does not agree, may demand that the matter be reviewed by the Advisory Board, consisting of three members (one from each party to the dispute and one independent). The Advisory Board should take the non-binding decision within 15 days. If the problem remains unresolved, the Joint Commission shall consider the views of the Advisory Board within no more than five days. After this, the party may consider the unresolved issue as an excuse to stop the execution of its obligations under the JCPA wholly or partially.

5. The Parties' Positions

Each party to the negotiations, while not forgetting the importance and urgency of solving the Iranian issue, was defending its national interests. It is very important to take into consideration that not only further development of the political situation in the Middle East region will depend on the parties' positions. This can influence geopolitical priorities as well, both in Europe and in the world as a whole.

5.1. Iran

For Iran, with its economic problems, the lifting of sanctions is as necessary as air

For Iran, with its economic problems, the lifting of sanctions is as necessary as air. The Agreement will unlock the frozen foreign bank accounts, provide an opportunity to export Iranian oil and gas to the world and European markets, to obtain the necessary funds and technologies for their production. Capital markets will open for it, and it will get the opportunity to use foreign funding of its programs, investments for the economy. This will attract to the budget tens of billions of dollars, which will allow to start the necessary reforms, to improve the living standards of the population, and the army and Revolutionary Guards will receive additional funding for their programs. All this will strengthen Iran's influence in the region, will provide additional opportunities in struggle against the IS.

The President of the country Hassan Rouhani has positioned himself as a reformist president, and his victory in the presidential elections in 2013 became possible largely due to his promise to lift years-long sanctions and to achieve economic prosperity of Iran. And I must say that the President and the core of the team of Ministers did manage within two years to come to the real signing of the Agreement, and Hassan Rouhani himself may go down in history as the President who succeeded in lifting of the sanctions, at this, not against the interests of the state. For him, it can be a good stepping-stone for the upcoming parliamentary elections in February 2016 and, of course, for the presidential elections in August 2017. So the official Tehran can be safely counted among the supporters of the signing of the Agreement.

The opponents of signing of the Agreement include the Conservatives dominant in the Iranian Parliament, led by the main opposition faction that supports the former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Conservatives, opposing any concessions to the West, tried to pass a bill that would give Parliament the right to veto the Agreement. Ultimately, these attempts failed and all the Agreements with the West will have to be adopted by the Supreme National Security Council (i.e. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei). But the Conservatives managed to pass a law that defines a list of conditions under which the Agreement will be valid: sanctions against Iran should be canceled on the day of the Agreement's entry into force; IAEA inspectors' access to military sites is prohibited; limiting the development of peaceful nuclear energy, etc. is not allowed. The adopted document has complicated the already difficult negotiations, in particular — the question of the order of removal of international sanctions.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has put at the heart the national interests, calling on both Iranian sides to be united on this issue. This way he put himself “above the conflict”. This position allowed him to save face whatever the outcome of the negotiations. Besides, Ali Khamenei confirmed the requirements of the law on the conditions of the signing of the Agreement. After signing of the JCPA, he stated that the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program were an exception, the signed documents correspond to the national interests of Iran and Tehran's position in relation to the “arrogant” US administration will remain the same, and Iran does not intend to be engaged in dialogue with the US. According to Ali Khamenei, regardless of the Agreement, Iran will support the Governments of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain.

On this basis, we can assume that the situation may develop in three main scenarios.

The First scenario — the Supreme National Security Council under the leadership of Ali Khamenei adopts the JCPA. For Iran, the lifting of sanctions does not just put an end to its international isolation, but also makes it a full-fledged participant in global economic processes, and will boost the stagnant economy. Tehran, which has the second in the world gas reserves (33.8 trillion cubic meters), and the third-fourth in the world oil reserves (157.3 billion barrels), is ready to enter the European and world energy markets and to offer lucrative contracts to Western oil and gas companies wishing to participate in the production of Iranian oil and gas after the lifting of sanctions. Its foreign financial assets are unfrozen, and the country's budget receives a lot of money on new contracts. President Hassan Rouhani's increased authority will help him eliminate the Conservatives' resistance, and to begin the so much needed domestic economic reform. The coalition of pragmatists gets good chances to win parliamentary elections in 2016, Rouhani himself — Presidential ones in 2017.

The Second scenario — the opposite scenario. The Supreme National Security Council and the nationalist and conservative forces surrounding Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, block the adoption of the JCPA as not meeting the requirements of the earlier adopted law. This means the impossibility of economic revival of Iran, oriented to reforms, and a new round of international isolation of the country. The alarm was already noticed July 18: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in his speech, though did not speak specifically against the agreement, but called to “... examine whether all Iran's interests were taken into consideration”. He also stressed that he will not allow to violate the revolutionary principles, and repeated several times the disturbing phrase “... whether the document is approved or not.”

The Third is a neutral scenario. The Agreement is approved, but the economic effect of the lifting of sanctions is negligible. Domestic opponents of the JCPA consider the Agreement only a necessary tool to lift economic sanctions in order to strengthen and build up Iran's military potential alone and otherwise impede the reforms. At the present majority of Conservatives, there is no doubt that a large part of the tens of billions of dollars received as a result of the lifting of sanctions, will be spent on strengthening the country's defense, the power of the Iranian army, strengthening Iran's regional domination.

5.2. The USA

US President Barack Obama was interested in the positive outcome of the negotiations. Since it could compensate for the not too comforting results of the United States' struggle against the IS' militants in the Middle East. The official Washington was not interested in delaying the negotiation process either, as the Congress must still approve the final agreement. Only with these timelines, Democrats can count on the first positive practical results of the Agreement, which could be used by them in the presidential election race. Besides, the US had only two other possibilities: not to sign the Agreement (then, according to international experts, Iran could get nuclear weapons within a year or a year and a half), or to launch air strikes against Iran's nuclear infrastructure. And this would mean a new war in the Middle East with unpredictable timing and consequences. It is therefore understandable why Washington chose the diplomatic way, despite even the imperfect in many ways compromise Agreement.

The USA will maintain some sanctions against Iran, as the latter “supports terrorism”...

After the conclusion of the Agreement, the US President pointed out that it meets the national interests of the USA, and he would veto any bill of the Congress that would prevent the implementation of the reached agreements. At this, he stressed that the USA will maintain some sanctions against Iran, as the latter “supports terrorism”, violates human rights and is engaged in the development of a ballistic missile program. But the Agreement will not allow Tehran to get nuclear weapons. Besides, he pointed out “the deal with Iran is not based on trust, but on verification”.

During the negotiations, the White House had a large internal pressure from Republicans and some public organizations. In the country there was launched a powerful media campaign against the signing of the Agreement, open letters of disapproval addressed to the American President were published, and so on.  Representatives of the Republican Party repeatedly criticized the White House and emphasized that the deal undermined the national security of the United States. The Congress, both Houses of which are controlled by Republicans, most likely will block the Agreement's entry into force, but the President, as we have already mentioned, said that in this case, he would exercise the right of veto.

The signed Agreement has complicated the special relationship between the United States and Israel, as well as relations with strategic partners in the region, especially with Saudi Arabia.

5.3. China

China is Iran's largest trading partner. At the end of 2014, the PRC accounted for over a quarter of Iran's exports. China, which supplanted the United States from the first position of an oil importer in the world, during the period of international sanctions against Iran also remained the largest consumer of Iranian oil (only in June this year it imported 2.76 million tons) and, therefore, was keenly interested in the settlement of disputes with the help of negotiations. After the signing of the final Agreement, Beijing declared its readiness to buy the entire volume of Iranian oil that is in storage (more than 30 million barrels).

China also hopes for an early resumption of the Iranian-Chinese project to supply Iranian gas from the field “South Pars”. Even before the sanctions, China had financed the arrangement of the gas field, construction of 6 gas tankers to transport liquefied natural gas. Besides, Beijing is actively studying the possibility of transportation of the Iranian gas through the pipeline via Pakistan, with which it has already concluded bilateral agreements. Under these circumstances, the planned construction of the Russian gas pipeline to China can be called problematic.

5.4. The EU

The EU was extremely interested in restoration of bilateral relations with Tehran, especially in political and economic spheres. Lifting of sanctions against Iran makes it possible to resume the bilateral energy cooperation, which is more than 20 % of the Iranian oil and gas exports (before the adoption of restrictive measures), and to get an alternative to Russian oil and gas supplier. Besides, European politicians are considering the Agreements as a form of enhancing the security in the region, excluding Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. According to European experts, lifting the sanctions will give impetus to comprehensive changes inside Iran, which will help in de-escalation of conflicts in other hot spots of the Middle East. Supporting Iran, Europe hopes for its constructive role in struggle against the IS, in eliminating the problem of refugees, etc.

The progress in the negotiations has shown the united position of the European community in its desire to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, the willingness even by small, pragmatic steps, but to come to solving the problem, overcoming mutual distrust. The EU Council at its meeting July 20, 2015, confirmed “the actions and commitments of the EU within the framework of the comprehensive action plan related to the removal of sanctions will be completed on time and under the conditions specified in the plan”.

 

5.5. Russia

Moscow “expressed satisfaction with the signed agreement”. And while political dividends for Russia are clear, the economic one remain questionable.

Russia, as a direct participant in the talks, had quite a controversial position

Russia, as a direct participant in the talks, had quite a controversial position. The signing of the Agreement and the subsequent lifting of sanctions almost immediately brings Iran into the European oil and gas market as the largest exporter (30 million barrels of oil in storage). This, in conjunction with the increase in oil and gas production and thus their exports, will mean even a more severe blow to world energy prices. Lower oil prices (according to forecasts of some experts, possibly up to 30-40 US dollars per barrel) and, accordingly, lower gas prices may have disastrous consequences for the Russian economy and to some extant for its foreign policy. Such a scenario is highly undesirable for Russia, so it is logical to assume that at the negotiating table Russia not always played a constructive role. For example, this was clearly seen in the question of lifting of sanctions on the supply of arms to Iran. Back in April of this year, Russia unilaterally canceled its ban on the supply of air defense systems S-300 and once again began to coordinate the delivery with the Iranian side.

Officially, Russia hopes that the trade and economic relations with Iran will get activated (coordinated business projects are estimated at 70 billion US dollars), the scale of the military-technical cooperation will resume and increase, will grow participation in realization of Iranian projects in nuclear energy (first of all, will be continued the construction of nuclear power units in Bushehr and removal of enriched uranium), power generation, transport, construction and development of oil and gas fields.

Even so, Russia's economic profit from the JCPA is not visible, so we need to look for the hidden motives of the Kremlin, who supported the Agreement. Is it a simple coincidence: Putin is surprisingly calm, and the “inspired” Obama suddenly lavishes compliments on him? Many foreign experts suggest the presence of certain non-public agreements of negotiators and see in the signed Agreement the motives for important geopolitical changes. What can it be: the United States-the Russian Federation, the EU-the Russian Federation, the Russian Federation-Ukraine? Moscow has already reminded of one of the American President's promises of 2009 — not to create a missile defense system in the European segment in case if it is possible to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. And the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, actively supported by the Kremlin, openly rejoiced the Agreement, calling it a “great victory”. Anyway, much will become clear very soon.

5.6. Vocal Opponents

The most ardent opponents, both of the negotiations and signing of the Agreement are Israel and Saudi Arabia — the main USA' allies in the region.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the entire leadership of the country have consistently and publicly opposed any agreement with Tehran, and the Prime Minister called the signed Agreement “a mistake of historic proportions”. Such a position of the leadership of Israel withdrew it from the circle of international consultations connected with the formation of the Agreement on the Iran issue. Israel has even suspended negotiations with the United States on providing military aid and is preparing to present new demands on the arms, allowing to ensure its security.

The main postulate of Saudi Arabia's policy: religion (Islam) and the security of the Kingdom cannot be subject to discussion

Saudi Arabia has also openly showed its negative attitude to the negotiations and, in particular, to the position of the United States. At this, lately Riyadh has stepped up purchases of new weapons and began to seriously develop Saudi Arabia's own nuclear program. The Minister of Defence of the Kingdom, Muhammad bin Salman's latest visits to Russia and France and the contracts signed there confirm it.

Besides, in Western media there were information “throws in” about negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on a possibility of Saudi Arabia's buying nuclear weapons. In this context, we should not forget the main postulate of Saudi Arabia's policy: religion (Islam) and the security of the Kingdom cannot be subject to discussion.

6. General Conclusions

It should be noted that the Agreement is first of all a political rather than a legally binding document, and it relies solely on the goodwill of the signatories. The main task of the Document — to prevent Iran from building its own nuclear weapons — will depend on Tehran's goodwill, while the levers of influence on it are only sanctions, which will be gradually reduced, in case of fulfillment of certain conditions, or strengthened — in case of non-compliance.

The main task of the Document — to prevent Iran from building its own nuclear weapons

The defining will be the events that will follow within the next two to three months and can result in a variety of options for the development of the situation. They will set the tone to further events: the JCPA must be approved by the UN Security Council (did adopt by the unanimous decision of July 20, 2015), the US Congress and the Supreme National Security Council (under the conditions described above) and the IAEA's representatives must inspect Iran's nuclear facilities, and provide their conclusions.

If the above-mentioned questions are solved positively, there comes step-by-step lifting of sanctions (from mid-December 2015) which returns Iran as a full partner into the world's energy, financial and other markets. Iran's full return into the world and European energy market, according to international experts' forecasts, could happen no earlier than mid-late 2016, which means a significant correction in oil prices has been postponed.

Ukraine can count on a number of positive economic moments due to the settlement of the Iran's nuclear issue. First of all, the downward trend in world oil prices in the short term is quite possible, and, therefore, the price of gas which is tied to it. Iran's emerging in the European market as one of the major exporters of gas will make it possible to further increase the diversification of gas supplies in the long term, and to abandon the Russian ones. We should not miss the possibility of Ukrainian campaigns' participation in the restoration and construction of new facilities of Iran's infrastructure. Politically, apart from positive things, there appear certain risks, about which “Borysfen Intel” will tell in its materials that follow.

The agreements clearly strengthen the international security in the Middle East region and in the world at large. Risks of strained relations between Iran and Israel and Saudi Arabia, are constant and can be equated to others, which also have not disappeared. In a word, the world “has slowed down at the Iranian fork” in anticipation of the correct choosing of the further way by all the parties. So far all this inspires cautious optimism...