Home Contact Us  

US & South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4132, 1 October 2013
Iranís Nuclear Programme: Is Rouhani in a Win-Win Situation?
Rajeev Agarwal
Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi
Email: rajeevidsa@gmail.com

How much is Iran ready to compromise in nuclear negotiations? Could it entail giving up its nuclear enrichment programme? Would the US and the P5+1 be willing to accept Iran’s stance on its peaceful nuclear programme and the obvious lead up to easing of economic sanctions? Given the domestic constituencies in the US and Iran, how much can each party afford to offer? Finally, the most crucial question, if the talks fail again, where would it leave both?

Rouhani rode over the presidential elections with his pledges to try to ease the sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme and seek greater engagement with Western powers. The US too welcomed Rouhani’s election and said it was ‘ready to engage directly’ with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme. President Obama continued the buildup when he said at the UN General Assembly session on 24 September that “America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully, although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. We are not seeking regime change and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.” This was music to Iranian ears and President Rouhani too didn’t disappoint when he said that he was prepared to engage in ‘time-bound and results-oriented’ talks on his country's nuclear programme. He called the ‘so-called Iranian threat’ as imaginary and added that Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world, and that nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defence doctrine. He has repeatedly said that he has the blessings of the Supreme Leader in resolving the nuclear issue.

Potential Roadblocks
Despite this optimism, there are already signs of cracks developing. The much touted direct interaction and hand shake between Obama and Rouhani has not take place, with the Iranians reportedly calling it ‘too complicated’ right now. President Rouhani on his return to Tehran was received with condemnation and brick bats from the hardliners. Israel, one of the (undeclared) major parties in the issue have cautioned and warned the US against falling for hollow talk from Iran. While the Iranian foreign minister declared Iran’s ‘right to uranium enrichment’ non-negotiable, the US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that the ‘right to nuclear energy’ does not imply the right to enrich uranium. The Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia are very skeptical and have become wary of Obama, with some Saudi analysts even saying that Obama is ‘not a reliable ally and that he’s bending to the Syrians and Iranians’. On the US side, Obama will find it very hard to convince the Congress to reduce or lift economic sanctions as a quid pro for the talks to progress.

Besides politics, there are other issues related to the nuclear programme. The IAEA report of August 2013 reports that Iran has added about 1,000 more advanced centrifuges at Natanz and now has 372 kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium, although of this only 185 Kg is UF6 (well below the ‘red line’ of 240 kg). The balance has been converted to fuel rods. Also, Iran is enriching 10-15 kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium every month. The heavy water plant at Arak too is going to be commissioned soon, which would add to Iran’s enrichment capability.

While the P5+1 and Iran get ready for talks in October, doubts remain on the horizon. Iran may permit greater inspections by the IAEA, but will it permit sudden and unannounced inspections in future once the inspectors have been satisfied of the peaceful nature of the nuclear programme? While the known enrichment sites may be under monitoring, what about small labs building better know-how on future nuclear technology? Is it possible to completely erase Iran’s capability and knowledge to enrich and build bombs just through IAEA monitoring? In nuclear technology, once a particular level of expertise and enriched stocks are reached, the ability to ‘breakout’ is simple and quick enough.

All these lead to the conclusion that even if Iran permits extra monitoring and inspections, reduces its enrichment levels (without giving up the programme itself) and signs the additional protocol, it would still retain the ability to bounce back if required. If the talks fail, Rouhani could well say that he tried his best. Also, if there is indeed a resolution, it would put Israel in a tight corner and put additional pressure to come clear on its nuclear programme, especially when seen in the context of the Syrian chemical weapons programme. It would thus seem that Iran and Rouhani have indeed played their cards right and could emerge victorious either way.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Shresht Jain,
"Syria and Chemical Weapons: Iranís Dilemma," 10 September 2013
Pratima Koirala,
"International Crisis Group (ICG) Report: Iranís New President and the Nuclear Talks," 3 September 2013
D Suba Chandran,
"The Challenge of/for Iran: New President, Old Issues," 8 August 2013
Kai FŁrstenberg,
"Iran's New President: Foreign Policy Challenges for Rohani," 7 August 2013

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
US-Afghanistan: Implications of the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA)

Iran Nuclear Deal: Why would Iran want to Weaponise?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.