The preliminary agreement between Iran and the P5+1 to resolve issues related to Iran's nuclear program on November 24, 2013 was hailed as a great achievement for diplomacy around the world. Exception were some hardliners in the U.S. and Israel or certain Saudi royalties who fear that a final deal between Iran and the U.S. will end up with their friendship or even an alliance in the future; consequently accentuating Iran's geopolitical significance.

As indicated in the Joint Plan of Action: "The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran's nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful." The agreement should comfort all those who were concerned about Iran's nuclear program, although Iran was never really seeking nuclear weapons. Thus, the real concerns of the opponents of the accord seem to be the long-term balance of power in the Persian Gulf and Middle East which they perceive will be tipped toward Iran.

American factor

The U.S. played a central role in the whole episode of challenging Iran's nuclear program, making military threats and most recently by imposing the so-called 'crippling sanctions'. Similarly, their significant role for the success of the current negotiations in the framework of the P5+1 is not deniable. Indeed this agreement may break the long spell of estrangement and hostility between Iran and the United States. Although at the official level any connection between the current nuclear talks and bilateral relations with the U.S. is denied in Iran, but it is undeniable that these diplomatic overtures would positively affect Iran's relations with America and other major powers

There have been unconfirmed reports of some back channel talks between Iran and the U.S. to facilitate the process for reaching a lasting settlement of Iran's nuclear file parallel to the P5+1 talk in Geneva. In a rare interview, Ayatollah Rafsanjani who heads Iran's influential Expediency Council is quoted as saying that “Part of it [the breakthrough in Geneva] was because talking to the US was a taboo. That taboo could not be easily broken and nuclear talks could not move ahead without the U.S…. it was breaking the ice; the second stage will be more routine,” 

Geostrategic scene

Europe and especially Asia are going through a transitional phase. It is said that while the19th century belonged to Europe, the 20th century belonged to the U.S. Some observers believe that the 21st century belongs to Asia, and that Asia will occupy the centre stage in world strategic and economic affairs in the 21st century. In 2011, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the western hemisphere’s influence in the world was rapidly waning, and the U.S. was shifting its focus from Europe to Asia. Apparently, this was the idea behind the U.S. strategy that is now known as the 'Asia Pivot'. The strategy is not yet defined clearly but China suspects it is a plan for its containment, though Washington denies this.

On security matters, the tension has grown between China and Japan over the ownership of an island in the South China Sea and China's plan to set up an airspace defense zone in waters disputed with Japan. Rising Chinese economy is another concern of the U.S. and other Western powers. China overtook Japan as the world's second most powerful economy in 2010. China enjoys a high economic growth and holds over trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves. Meanwhile Chinese companies have pumped billions into Africa to secure access to natural resources. The same process is taking place in the strategically important region of the Middle East. The trade relations between Iran and China has grown enormously amounting to 100 billion dollars, thanks to the unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the West. Iran as an Asian country has always cherished its ties to the countries in this ancient continent. That policy was stressed in the 'Look to East' policy of Iran adopted in 2004 and at the beginning of the presidency of Ahmadinejad when relations with the West went sour on the nuclear file. With the presidency of Rohani and the new opening toward the West, it seems that Iran is apt to return to its balanced approach in foreign policy.


Iran as linchpin

In the future geostrategic setting, Iran is apt to play an important linchpin role between Europe and Asia. Iran's role can be more appreciated at the time that Asia is on the rise and a strategic shift is occurring from Europe to Asia. In that shift, the focus on the Middle East as hub of world's energy will grow even more than present. Iran that enjoys good relations with both Russia and China can prevent any power vacuum that might be created when the U.S. will eventually shift away the focus of its strategy from this vital region.

At present, with the progressive move on Syrian chemical weapons disarmament and current endeavors to prove the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, the prospect is much brighter for the Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East and for global nuclear disarmament.


The Geneva nuclear accord was not only a win-win deal for the two parties but represents a victory for the paradigm of diplomacy that was largely forsaken in the aftermath of the Cold War as peaceful means to resolve international disputes. The true importance of this accord is yet to become more evident when hopefully all terms of the deal are fulfilled.

It was Iran that for the success of the negotiations, displayed its goodwill by accepting some intrusive measures for inspection of its nuclear facilities that goes not only beyond the NPT obligations but also the Additional Protocol. Iran's diplomatic gambit even stunned some experts in the West whose skepticism toward Iran's nuclear program is notorious.


To find explanation for Iran's recent diplomatic overture the following analysis might be helpful:

-  Although there are reasons to believe that sanctions have had some effect on Iran's decision to look for an early end of its nuclear file. But the main reason should be found elsewhere. Many experts are of the view that the nuclear file was just a pretext and the real purpose of confrontation with Iran should be sought in the deep mistrust that exists between the two the sides.

- Iran steadfastly resisted, and boldly defied the American-Israeli-led
sanctions, assassinations, industrial sabotage and explicit military
threats for over a decade

-   Iran wanted to close this file once and forever since it was grown out of proportion and tends to overshadow other critical security problems that are popping up in the region. In many cases, Iran and some Western powers namely the US have identical national interests but their rivalry has not only impeded their cooperation but in some cases posed their policies on the opposite direction. In several cases like Afghanistan, Iraq and more recently Syria, despite some differences, both Iran and the Western powers (not to exclude Russia and China) are facing a common enemy molded in radicalism and terrorism.

-  Iran by opening up its nuclear installation for wide inspections and despite some perceivable risks that are involved (to become potential military target in the future or risks of espionage on technical know-how) is demonstrating a self confidence in engaging major powers. Through this initiative, Iran is also displaying proudly its homegrown and indigenous technological advances that despite over thirty years of sanctions has been achieved and safeguarded against any outside intrusion.  

Game- changer


Finally the moment of truth arrived. The Western powers realized that Iran's nuclear infrastructure was so much advanced and expanded that no military strike would be able to block it. Thanks to the stubborn policy by the West to confront Iran's peaceful nuclear program, Iran is now a nuclear threshold state similar to some other countries like Japan and Germany, enjoying a 'nuclear deterrence' without having the bomb. It is worth reminding that the U.S. intelligence community long ago determined that Iran had the scientific, technological and industrial capacity to build a bomb if it wished to do so. Its leaders, they added, had not decided to do so.


Cognizant of the fact that its nuclear program is not the real issue, and in order to close its nuclear file, Iran volunteered for intrusive inspection of its nuclear sites that goes far beyond the NPT obligations. As seen from Tehran, the accord reached in Geneva far exceeds the nuclear issue; it is about Western powers conceding to come to terms with Iran as a regional player which has been ignored during the past three decades.


The geopolitical significance of the Geneva accord has been analyzed by many experts. In general, it is viewed as a positive development that allows Iran to play a more constructive role in dealing with many crises that the region is now facing. The process that started in Geneva could be considered as a game-changer in geopolitical terms, and with its final conclusion in a year or so, a much stable geopolitical environment is not far from expectation.


In the Shahnameh (1010 CE), the national epic of Persian world, Ferdowsi, the renowned Iranian poet  narrates a story about Rostam ( a mythical hero )who had to go through Seven Quests (Haft Khan-e- Rostam)  in order to save his sovereign from shackles of Divs (demons). That arduous struggle has become proverbial in the Iranian folklore for any formidable task. The ten year long negotiations between Iran and the major powers, in many ways, resembles the arduous endeavor of Rostam. Fortunately, there are now good reasons to believe that Iran has finally succeeded in passing the last of the seven Quests (Khan). It is therefore high time to welcome Iran's reintegration into the world politics.