Rouhani’s presidency has injected a new tone in Iran’s foreign policy, marking a dramatic shift from Ahmadinejad’s policy of confrontation with the West. Rouhani’s policy towards the neighbouring countries has received strong support while his policy of engagement with Obama administration and the nuclear deal have generated intense debate.
The November 24, 2013 Joint Plan of Action between Iran and its P5+1 interlocutors is the first agreement since November 2004 that contains Iran’s acceptance of certain short-term limitations on its nuclear programme.
The interim deal was signed by seven foreign ministers of US, UK , France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran but the deal was not negotiated mainly in Geneva, but in Muscat and other locations where the US and Iran met secretly for months. Essentially, it is a deal between US and Iran and the rest were there to serve a choreographic purpose.
The US pursuit of missile defence in order to counter and/or hedge against Iran's ballistic missile capabilities coupled with concerns generated by its nuclear programme has had significant strategic consequences. Iran on its part has pursued these capabilities as part of its asymmetric strategy to overcome its strategic vulnerabilities flowing from US encirclement, short-comings in force levels vis-a-vis neighbours and resource constraints in building effective conventional forces.
At the core of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme is the challenge to West Asia’s balance of power from Iran’s growing sphere of influence, which now stretches through Iraq towards the Mediterranean.
The Indian government is now weighing several options to manoeuvre around the ever-tightening sanctions, including the provision of sovereign guarantees to oil tanker operators.
Attempts by India and the US to square the circle on the nature of India’s energy cooperation with Iran have hit high gear in the aftermath of Clinton’s visit.
US President Barak Obama recently signed a tougher sanctions law against Iran in a continuing bid to coerce Tehran into abandoning its nuclear programme. This Backgrounder discusses the reactions of the emerging powers to the new sanctions and their implications.
With growing tensions between the US and Iran leading to a drawing of maritime red lines, the Iranian threat to close the straits of Hormuz and the US response could affect future maritime issues, oil supplies and the world economy.
Whilst war is not likely in the foreseeable future, the likelihood of its occurrence further down the line has increased in the light of Admiral Mullen’s statement.