Waiting for a deal

When these lines are written, the world holds its breath. 1st July 2015: the deadline for the conclusion of a nuclear deal between the E3/EU+3 and Iran was missed. Fortunately, the 7th July was proposed as a new target date. We can breathe, can’t we? Not so sure.

The good news is that there is more chance to have the latter target date met than the former: if any deal is concluded, it must be sent to the US Congress by 9 July 2015. The bad news is that the international community does not wait for any deal but for a very specific agreement guaranteeing without a doubt that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes. As the saying goes, nothing should be settled until everything is settled. Unfortunately what would be true in a perfect world is not in ours. In other words, what is being negotiated is not negotiable. It sounds like a tricky paradox.

Be it the issue of the timing and extent to which UN sanctions will be lifted, the means to verify past allegations of weaponisation work, the detailed of a “managed access”, the right of Iran to R&D or the issue of spent fuel, reactions to the future deal can be expected to be very mixed.

This is actually the way arms control has always been since the Fifties: how to limit the volume of violence in international affairs when one has to build on widespread distrust? In that regard, the Iran nuclear deal is a typical arms control phenomenon which is fascinating for an observer. The nuclear Iranian issue is highly sensitive because it deals with strategic matters: security of states, regional security and the distribution of power. The problem with strategic matters is that people who know don’t speak and people who don’t know speak. And one day you have a deal. Or you have not.

In the meantime, you will find on page 3 a list of recent publications from our network on the nuclear issue in Iran. I really hope you will enjoy reading these articles.

Benjamin Hautecouverture
EU Non-Proliferation Consortium / Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS)

July / August 2015, Issue No. 19

The CEI aims at studying global connections and their local expressions

The ongoing negotiations with Iran are crucial for the future security of the Middle East region but also for international security in a broader sense.
Luís Nuno Rodrigues is Associate Professor at the Department of History of ISCTE, University Institute of Lisbon, where he coordinates the Master in International Studies and is deputy director of the Center for International Studies. He is also the Editor of the Portuguese Journal of Social Science. A former Fulbright student, Rodrigues holds a PhD in American History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.
What role does the Portuguese civil society play regarding international security issues?

Portuguese civil society has been increasingly attentive to international security issues. Following a long period of dictatorship (1926-1974) and relative isolationism, Portuguese citizens in the last four decades have been more aware of the importance of international affairs for their own well-being. In part this was a consequence of a major transformation in terms of Portuguese foreign policy, with the end of the Portuguese empire in Africa, the integration in the European Union, since 1986, the gradual Europeanization of Portuguese foreign policy and the continuing participation in NATO and in international missions by Portuguese armed forces. In recent years there was also a growing attention paid to international affairs in school curricula, specially at the university level, in television and radio, and also in a number of generalist publications, such as magazines and newspapers.

What characterizes the Center for International Studies of the University Institute of Lisbon (CEI-IUL)in the European landscape of strategic research?

The Center for International Studies (CEI) at ISCTE-IUL was created in 2013 with the purpose of studying global connections and their local expressions. It emerged from the long experience of the former Center for African Studies (CEA) and looks forward to producing excellent research, relevant for society and with a sound expression in scientific outcomes, while supporting postgraduate teaching. The 30 years’ experience of CEA created a unique research framework that is being extended to CEI, combining an interdisciplinary practice with a broad public-oriented activity, promoting research dissemination and engaging in public debates. CEI-IUL is organized on a three by three matrix, consisting of research groups and thematic regional lines. Our scholars link their regional knowledge and field research to theoretical approaches from political science and international relations, history, anthropology, sociology and economics. They compare social, political and economic dynamics either within the region of study or between different regions. Their research is organized in three groups: Institutions, Governance and International Relations; Development and Societal Challenges; Economy and Globalisation; and three thematic regional lines: Africa, Asia; European and Transatlantic.

How do you perceive the ongoing negotiations between the E3/EU+3 and Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear programme?

We believe these negotiations and the search for a long-term solution regarding Iran are crucial for the future security of the Middle East region but also for international security in a broader sense. These negotiations, as we know, are an ongoing process that started more than 10 years ago, when, in October 2003, the EU-3 and Iran signed the Tehran Declaration and the Iranian government accepted to cooperate with the IAEA. In this process, the Joint Plan of Action reached in November 2013 was also an important milestone, because of the limits it imposed on Iran’s nuclear programme. Since then, the E3/EU+3 have been pushing for a comprehensive agreement, with the deadline being extended several times, from July 2014 to November 2014 and, finally to June 2015. In Vienna, negotiators agreed to extend the deadline until July 7, 2015 but the prospect for a comprehensive, long-term agreement seems difficult. Iran rejects the E3/EU+3 request for a long-term freeze on nuclear research and does not want international inspectors on its military sites. The role of the United States is also crucial, since President Obama has been facing strong criticism in Congress which threatens to impose new sanctions and to reject any agreement reached by the negotiators. The next weeks and months will be crucial to define the success of negotiations

Interview conducted by Benjamin Hautecouverture