By Rebekah Kulidzan, Undergraduate Student in International Relations
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted ‘We have reached an agreement.’ By this he meant the P5+1 and himself, in a meeting headed by EU’s Catherine Ashton, had come to an agreement to halt Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for relaxed sanctions (worth nearly $7bn). Zarif agreed to capping uranium enrichment for power station use only, to refrain from installing new centrifuges and working on its heavy-water reactor near Arak. Over the coming months the six world powers will engage in even tougher talks to try and broker a long-term agreement that satisfies all parties.
A significant step towards tightened nuclear security? More than that. This is arguably yet another indicator that Rouhani’s administration is moving towards a never-seen-before, open Iran (‘open’ to be taken as lightly as possible). Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Western foreign ministers and heads of state (particularly in the USA) haven’t come close to this level of engagement with Iran. Zarif, a relatively modern thinker (and communicator; big Twitter user) has began a process once unthinkable to Western powers; a diplomatic agreement with The Islamic Republic that aims to bring positive results for both sides.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has stated recently that ”It was always going to be hard to arrive at a deal with Iran when the mistrust was so deep and had gone on for so long.” The agreement that came out at around 3am GMT provides a basis for growth in Western-Iranian relations. It allows the past to be remembered, but not to wholly frame the future. Rouhani’s administration (although scepticism will lie on both sides) has created a path for Iranian development in the eyes of the West, for less ‘Axis of Evil’ talk circa George W. Bush, and for a state that can be taken seriously by the outside world.
Over the coming months it will be interesting to see how these talks develop. Will there be a real future for Western-Iranian relations? I don’t know, but what I do know is that 24th November 2013 marks a historic step in the right direction for Iran. If taken seriously, and implemented properly, the Geneva talks represent the beginning of the end of the silent Cold War.