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  • New Directions in Iranian Foreign Policy: Impact on Global Energy Security

    After the June 2013 election when Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran, Iranian foreign policy changed course. The fundamental transformation is the result of his decision to open up a fresh dialogue with the United States and other Great Powers to resolve the nuclear stand-off that would end the country’s isolation, lift the biting US-led sanctions and allow Iran to open a new chapter in its economic policy and international diplomacy.

    Iran under Rouhani: From Confrontation to Reconciliation

    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.

    February 26, 2014

    Nitin Khadse asked: How will the deal on Iran's nuclear programme affect America's relations with other powers in West Asia, and what is in Indian interest?

    Gulshan Dietl replies: The United States has nourished two “special relationships” in West Asia - that is, with Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both of them are adversaries of Iran. The November 24, 2013 Interim Agreement between Iran and the P5+1 major powers (5 Permanent Members of the UN Security Council + Germany) has resulted in a relegitimation of Iran in the global community and, more significantly, in an improvement in the US-Iran relations. Israel and Saudi Arabia, in the circumstances, are alarmed at the future prospects of this development. The Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has called the agreement a “historic mistake” and has kept up the threat of launching a unilateral attack against Iran if the Israeli security is threatened. Saudis have cautiously welcomed the agreement, though their concerns about an enhanced Iranian influence in the region and competition in the global energy market are serious.

    In the aftermath of the nuclear deal, the US Secretary of Defence, Chuck Hagel, acknowledged the anxieties of the Gulf states regarding the American “intentions, strategy and commitment” to the region and sought to reassure them that the US would continue to improve its own presence and bolster the regional empowerment in security and defence. Secretary of State John Kerry, similarly, indulged into a highly demonstrative gesture during his visit to Israel when the missile defence organisations of the US and Israel jointly test-fired Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile system. The Iran nuclear deal has impacted the US special relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia and there are sustained moves on all sides to mend the damage.

    The Iran deal is certainly in our interest and we have welcomed the same. The sanctions on oil, shipping and banking are not yet lifted. Therefore, there will not be an immediate expansion in the Indo-Iran trade ties. In the longer run, the Indian import of Iranian oil is slated to go up; exploration in the gas fields allotted to India will begin; and the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline may yet see the light of the day after an inordinate hibernation.

    Understanding Iran's Political and Military Institutions: An Indian Perspective

    Understanding Iran's Political and Military Institutions: An Indian Perspective

    The monograph attempts to understand Iranian politics since the Islamic revolution, by taking a close look at the functioning of different institutions—and the interactions among them—which shape the Iranian polity.

    2013

    Iran Nuclear Deal: The Fine Print

    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.

    December 09, 2013

    Ahmed Zahran asked: What is the latest position of the US, the EU, Russia and China on the Iranian nuclear issue, and what are the possible outcomes of the ongoing negotiation?

    S. Samuel C. Rajiv replies: The US, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom (P5) and Germany (the P5+1) are currently giving push to the 'engagement' track with the latest round of talks which began on October 15, 2013 at Geneva. While existing unilateral and multi-lateral (UNSC and EU) sanctions are in place, no additional sanctions are as yet being contemplated as a part of the 'sanctions' track.

    The 'dual-track' policy of sanctions and engagement has till date not shown much progress in modulating Iranian behaviour. It is pertinent to note that in the past, as the nature and volume of sanctions increased, Iranian intransigence correspondingly increased. Iran for instance suspended its voluntary implementation of the IAEA Additional Protocol (AP) after its referral to the UNSC in February 2006.

    However, various reports as well as Iranian officials have acknowledged the vulnerable state of the Iranian economy and its currency as a result of trade and oil-related sanctions. President Hassan Rouhani's overwhelming victory defeating candidates like Saeed Jalili (who was the chief nuclear negotiator) has given rise to the strong perception that the Iranian public have rejected the confrontationist approach of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Government. Supreme Leader Khamenei has also supported the path of dialogue, crucially in a speech to the IRGC commanders in September 2013. With the Obama Administration showing its commitment to the dialogue process, the hopes for progress at the current round of negotiations are huge.

    Possible outcomes could range from Iran signing the IAEA AP, temporarily suspending its enrichment activities, the shipping out of excess quantities of enriched uranium (a possibility alluded to by the Iranian Parliament Speaker) in exchange for graduated sanctions relief, provision of spare parts for its civilian aircrafts, among others in a 'grand bargain'.

    These elements are in the realm of the 'possible' given the unique circumstances surrounding the current negotiations, including Rouhani 'the pragmatist' being in power, Khamenei's support for negotiations, weak state of the Iranian economy, and the positive vibes generated by the renewed interactions between the US and Iran topped by the first telephonic conversation between presidents of the two countries in more than three decades.

    Iranian Nuclear Imbroglio: The Way Forward

    After wining the elections, Hassan Rouhani has insisted that Iran is ‘ready to show more transparency’ over its nuclear programme, but has also affirmed that it has ‘inalienable rights’ to enrich uranium as a member of the NPT.

    August 06, 2013

    Iran under Hassan Rohani: Imperatives for the region and India

    The victory of moderate cleric Hassan Rohani as the President and his accommodative overtures have potentials of driving Iran into a new era of relationship with the neighbourhood as well as with the US.

    July 19, 2013

    Making Sense of the Rouhani Presidency

    The elections in Iran defied most prediction but the Rouhani Presidency is unlikely to see any major changes expect possibly for a change of nuance.

    June 28, 2013

    Iran Elections: And the winner is…

    The presidential elections come at a time when Iran is reeling under the pressure of sanctions and having been isolated in the region with the rise of Sunni Islamism.

    June 13, 2013

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