Historic Iran nuclear deal…finally...

After a marathon last push, the world's major powers and Iran have agreed on a deal which restricts and inspects Iran's nuclear programme, in exchange for lifting years of crippling sanctions. No surprises in who sees it as true diplomacy at work and who is screaming capitulation and death to the deal.    

New Zealand’s Presidency of the United Nations Security Council will within days be in the spotlight following the signing of a nuclear deal between the world’s six major powers and Iran.

The win in the deal for Iran is the lifting of the crippling US, EU and UN economic sanctions.

France has confirmed a draft resolution is being drawn up, primarily by the US, for the UNSC to endorse the deal and lift the UN sanctions which are tied directly to Iran’s nuclear question.

As President of the UNSC, New Zealand will be in the company of the major world powers which have been involved in the torturous process to reach this deal. They are the veto holders which will make NZ's position pretty straightforward.

When this happens (7-10 days perhaps) it will be a stark reminder to the nay sayers that the deal has been made on behalf of the safety of the world and is indeed a historic achievement.

Reaction has, unsurprisingly, ranged from supportive, transformative, relieved, skeptical, and the hysterical - the latter being voiced by the ‘no deal ever’ cabal even before the details were published. For them the devil is not in the detail - the devil was at the table.

The deal, according to the Iranians is not perfect for anyone but important for everyone and the door to a new path of constructive Iranian engagement with the world.

For the Americans, Germans, French, British, Russians and Chinese it is a deal not built on trust but on verification, and trumps a ‘no deal‘ which means war.

For a war-weary American population this should bring a sense of relief.

Despite this the US Congress wants to kill it. President Obama has vowed to veto them.

If it comes to that he will actually be saving the US from international isolation because the others in the team will not stop for the US Congress. UN and EU sanctions will still be lifted. It remains to be seen whether Iran will walk away without the Americans. If so, there's precious little bar war to stop Iran from doing as it wishes without any scrutiny.  

However there is much to do before the deal is ratified on either side of the Atlantic.

President Obama now has to convince Americans and Congress that this is the best deal possible.

Congress has 60 days to consider the 159 page agreement which has basically been in the making for nearly a decade.

Given the unsurprising Israeli rhetoric which was ramped up as the day wore on, Prime Minister Netanyahu will no doubt again insert himself into the American political process in order to serve his own government’s policies.

Netanyahu made it clear that Israel is not bound by the deal - whatever he means by that he wouldn’t elaborate.

American politicians dependent on huge Jewish political contributions know what they must do. The question is will enough of them heed the dog whistle and vote in numbers (more than 2/3ds of both Houses) to override an Obama veto.

Republicans would need a good chunk of Democrats to join them, but now that their presumptive Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has given support based on what she knows of the details, a mass Democrat defection is hardly likely.

It is also important to remember that Clinton’s State Department was involved in initiating this last push for negotiations.

Obama has already been on the phone to Netanyahu trying to reassure him that the US still has Israel’s back when it comes to security issues. He’s sending his Defense Secretary Ash Carter to Israel next week to reinforce that.

Nevertheless Netanyahu, under pressure from Israeli opposition politicians for blowing the relationship with Obama and therefore failing to stop the Iranian negotiations, now says the world is less safe today than it was yesterday because of this “stunning historical mistake”.

As one Israeli commentator summed it up -”poor Netanyahu, the world has taken away his most beloved toy - the Iranian bomb”. 

It is the ultimate in chutzpah for Netanyahu as the leader of the only nuclear weapons power in the region to accuse the P5+1 of giving the green light for a Middle East arms race.

The chutzpah extends to the action of only occupier in the region, daily flouting UNSC resolutions, claiming the moral pulpit from which to judge the efforts of the P5+1 and an Iranian administration which has made major compromises for any sovereign nation.

The stakes of this deal are so high it is time for open minds and detailed study aided by the scientists and nuclear watchdog organisations involved in talks and talks and talks.

Next year Iran has a parliamentary election. An opening up of Iran’s economy, improving the lives of everyday Iranians who have borne the brunt of the crippling sanctions, bodes well for support of the ‘moderate’ camp of which President Rouhani (backed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) has proven his credentials.

Late next year the US has presidential elections.

This means declared candidates and others began immediately jostling for position - who can be the ultimate hawk and crush Iran? Who can be the pragmatist? Who actually believes in jaw over war? Who actually cares?

It is obvious the years of sanctions against Iran have not worked. If anything Iran has expanded its influence in the region, and for all its proxy meddling in wars (that it did not start but has certainly fed) it is now on the same side as the ‘West’ when it comes to the most menacing of foes - Daesh.

But Iran's behaviour in the region was not the cause of the sanctions. Not alone as a dirty player and human rights abuser in the neighbourhood, it was sanctioned only on the nuclear grounds.

While Republicans and a few Democrats mull over how they can kill the deal (and ultimately isolate their own country), Germany’s Chancellor Merkel sees the deal as a realistic chance of overcoming one of the most difficult international conflicts through diplomatic means; Egypt sees it as a step towards regional stability and heading OFF an arms race; British Foreign Secretary Hammond says it is beyond what was thought possible just 18 months ago; French firms have already been asked to get ready to return to Iran and President Hollande says his country will be watchful and with its partners ensure a credible, verifiable agreement which will assure the international community Iran can not build a nuclear bomb.

In Iran there is joking about a “goodbye falafel. Hello McDonalds”. On that, one could say be careful what you wish for!

In the meantime, New Zealand be ready for a historic move at the UN under your gavel.