Dr Hassan Rowhani’s Presidency as An Important Opportunity for Nuclear Compromise between the West and Iran
Dr Seyed G Safavi
International Peace Studies Centre – IPSC
Dr Hassan Rowhani, who was the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for 16 years and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator during Iran’s reformist government, despite the negative predictions of foreign pundits, was chosen as Iran’s 7th president by the popular vote of the Iranian nation.
Key Words: Dr Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s nuclear file, West, Iran’s president, the golden principles of nuclear compromise.
In Iran’s presidential race, three discourses on foreign policy competed with one another:
- The discourse of constructive cooperation and reduction of tensions (Dr Rowhani).
- The discourse of competition (Dr Qalibaf).
- The discourse of resistance (Dr Jalili).
Dr Rowhani’s Presidency as an Important Opportunity for the West
The victory of Dr Hassan Rowhani’s discourse has created a new opportunity for resolving the West’s conflict with Iran over its nuclear file. If the West grasps this opportunity, the nuclear conflict can be settled peacefully and a new era of peace and mutual cooperation between the two sides, as well as just peace in the Middle East and Persian Gulf can blossom. However, if the West does not comprehend the meaning of this important opportunity, both sides will suffer damages and sink deeper into the quagmire of conflict, distrust and loss.
The importance of this new opportunity is that by taking into consideration firstly, Dr Rowhani’s experience of nuclear negotiation and his renewed emphasis on the discourse of constructive cooperation and reduction of tensions; secondly the popular vote of the Iranian nation and the approval of the supreme leader as the two important sides of the Iranian state, the Iranian society and state have in unity sent a new message to the West, with the goal of a win-win compromise over Iran’s nuclear file.
The Iran of the era of the presidency of Dr Rowhani seeks the removal of Iran’s file from the UN Security Council, side by side with the completion of the attainment of peaceful nuclear technology. By taking into consideration the fatwa or religious decree of the supreme leader of Iran placing a religious ban on nuclear weapons, and also by considering the clear experience and constructive discourse of Dr Rowhani, if the West does not ask for too much, as it has done in the past, they can reach compromise on the nuclear issue with the new Iranian government, which has risen from the vote of the decisive majority of the Iranian nation. Reaching a compromise with Iran will result in mutually beneficial relations and the promotion of peace and security in the Middle East and the World. However, lack of flexibility of the US, Britain and France will result in this new opportunity going to waste.
The Golden Principles of Nuclear Compromise
As one who has for many years observed the conflict between the West and Iran over the latter’s nuclear file, and who wishes just peace and security for all, I advise the West to seize this new opportunity and not to repeat mistakes of the past, so that we can reach a win-win compromise. Reaching a constructive compromise with Iran depends on a number of Golden Principles:
- Recognition of the failure of political, economic and cyber war to stop Iran’s peaceful nuclear program: Although the political, economic and cyber warfare of the West against Iran has inflicted harm and damage on the livelihood of the peaceful Iranian nation, it has failed in either stopping or reducing the quality or quantity of the peaceful Iranian nuclear program.
- Mechanisms of observation, not limitation of nuclear rights: The main topic of discussion should be mechanisms of IAEA observation over Iran’s peaceful nuclear program as safeguards to prevent any possibility of deviation; not the limitation of Iran’s nuclear rights.
- Equal value exchange: Successful diplomacy, like business, is dependent on “equal value exchange”. As such, any compromise should be on the basis of equal value exchange.
- Mutual same value exchange occurring at the same time: It is natural that mutual exchange occurs step by step, however, it should be cash for cash. This means that any Iranian action should at the same time be met by a mutual Western action. The West’s policy of asking of Iran for cash or actual action, in return for western credit or potential and verbal commitments, is neither acceptable nor constructive.
- Mutual Trust is built over time through engagement and action: Trust has become a scarce commodity in Iran’s nuclear file. The road to mutual trust is travelled over time. Trust can only be built and harvested through engagement, cash and actual actions, compromise and considering the interests of all parties. Trust cannot be built through isolation, silence, intimidation, sanctions, pressure and empty promises.
If in response to Dr Rowhani’s nuclear policy and negotiations during the reformist government, the West had realistically compromised and had not demanded in excess, the nuclear file would have been closed by now, and Dr Rowhani would have been the President of Iran in 2005. Thus, the West should seize the new meaningful opportunity presented by the Iranian nation and state, and should not repeat past mistakes, so that the discourse of “moderation and rationality” can rule Iran’s government and society for years to come. The Iran of Rowhani’s era, as the bridge of constructive cooperation between the West and the Islamic World, can bring just and stable peace and security to the Middle East.
The goal of Iran is peaceful use of nuclear technology. Iran will pursue it’s right based on the NPT. Based on the fatwa or religious ruling of the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatullah Khamenei, the production, storage and usage of nuclear weapons is haram, i.e. banned and a sin against God. Thus, the West must understand the value of the presidency of Dr Rowhani in this new context, so that a realistic solution for the conflict with Iran over its nuclear file can be achieved.
A version of this article was first published by the Financial times on the 19th of June 2013, titled How the West can end the nuclear stand-off with Tehran A cleric you can work with.