Iran has officially joined the likes of the U.K., France, China and Germany. This is, of course, in a “field of peaceful users [of nuclear energy],” according to a statement made by European Union Foreign Affairs Chief, Federica Mogherini. These remarks followed Iranian compliance to a global arrangement made in July of 2015 requiring Iran to dramatically reduce its number of heavy-water reactors and centrifuges in the Northwest region. Iran’s commitment to reduce its level of uranium enrichment and to allow unfettered IAEA inspections quickly bore fruition.
This is in addition to their release of four Americans (including a Washington Post reporter and a former Marine) who had been held prisoners. One of these Americans, journalist Jason Rezaian, had wrongfully been convicted of espionage in July of 2014. Meanwhile, Siamak Namzi, a dual citizen to Iran and the U.S., remains detained after he visited Tehran in his role as head of strategic planning at the Dubai-based Crescent Petroleum company. Needless to say, the overlapping transactions between Iran and the U.S. symbolize a new era in diplomatic ties. This also raises questions on pragmatic U.S. strategy and conflicting dogmatic ideals.
A lesser know aspect of the January 16 exchange is that the U.S. issued new sanctions on the Iranians after the prisoners were released—this time for their late-2015 ballistic missile tests. Proving a vigilante approach to U.S.-Iran relations, the Obama Administration has clarified the “one-time” nature of this exchange.
These developments come after more than 12 years of international cooperation to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. As if concentrated talks by world leaders and their experts weren’t enough, the International Atomic Energy Agency, an international organization dedicated to safe nuclear energy usage, has praised these advancements.
In my avid following of U.S.-Iran relations, it has been hard for me to miss one central attribute of an impending Middle Eastern order: Iran is approaching a new age of self-awareness and global collaboration. In light of recent developments concerning a prisoner exchange and early steps of actualizing a deal to lift sanctions off Iran, dialogue between the U.S. and Iran could not have been more crucial.
With the lifting of Western sanctions, Iran is situated to increase oil production to 500,000 barrels a day. As they are launched into a new global market, statements made by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for example, should be taken seriously. So why are two nations, both deeply suspicious of one another and facing botched domestic political scenes, so willing to concert their efforts? One word: ISIS. (And on a side note, ISIS should be afraid.)
President Obama is not messing around with Iran and neither should the next commander-in-chief. If only one fact can be tethered to Obama’s legacy, it unequivocally is this: diplomacy works. Set aside American supremacy and you will soon realize that it is still in America’s best interest, economically and humanitarianly, to emit authority, sequester all Iranian aggression and still view Iran with the utilitarian esteem that brought three people home.
I should clarify, Iran has not conformed to many global standards concerning equality and global stability; Iran continues to remain ambivalent in terms of officially recognizing the Holocaust, though the ouster of the outspoken former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through elections may signal a new era of cognizant Iranian leadership. Still, condescending to our new allies should be countered with the greatest ardor. No nation, big or small, should risk concrete, authentic authority for the sake of mindless statecraft.
When the U.S. overthrew a popular government in Iran and replaced it with a dictatorship under an unpopular Shah, a 444-day hostage crisis unfolded immediately after a storm of infuriated Iranians besieged the U.S. Embassy. Furthermore, the U.S. backing of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war served to escalate U.S.-Iranian tensions. Though American efforts to contain communism were valiant, the ties severed are at last facing over-due repair. This rehabilitation, though long-drawn-out and contentious in recent U.S. political discourse, is pivotal.
So, Iran is entering a whole new ball game. What should the U.S. do to continue to strengthen our national security and promote worldwide stability? Simply keep up the phenomenal work. Diplomacy works. The truth of the matter is that pundits assume so much about Iran (mostly from Khamenei), that they neglect the value of “building new ties with the world” for the rest of Iran.
In the spirit of building bridges and looking forward, it seems to me that the U.S. can look to Iran as a model for reviving and renewing ties with other “frenemies.” Even when we forgo geopolitical differences, we may learn from our new friends on the Persian Gulf the willingness to discard identity politics and in turn adopt a more finessed approach to a grave threat to world peace (ourselves that may soon become).
As Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has stated, “it’s now time for all—especially Muslim nations—to join hands and rid the world of violent extremism. Iran is ready.” Perhaps American politicians (as well as potential presidential candidates) can learn to engage in bipartisan efforts to combat this and other rising threats with the same fortitude and discursive vision.
Iran is doubtlessly making steps into assimilating with a global market, and new leadership has proven re-assuring to high-ranking U.S. officials. Regardless, the Iran we witness in action today is far off from the Iran that was manipulated by the U.S. and U.K. only 62 years ago. Time will tell the extent to which global confidence in Iran will rise as tensions continue to escalate within the region entirely. For now, supercilious politics must be guardedly avoided at the expense of some Western vanity.
Sabriyya Pate is a Trinity freshman. Her column runs on alternate Thursdays.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Sabriyya Pate is a Trinity junior. Her column runs on alternate Mondays.