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The buzz this week in foreign policy news has been the recent nuclear deal with Iran. This deal deal comes just after Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran. Undoubtedly, there will be backlash to the deal especially coming from the Republican Party, however, it is a step forward in potentially stopping nuclear proliferation in the Middle East.
While it is very important to understand the contents of this deal, such as where the heavy water and low enriched uranium will go and in what quantity, how many centrifuges Iranian researchers will be allowed to continue using and how frequently nuclear development sites will be inspected, it is also important to understand the regional implications.
This deal comes as a huge success to the Obama administration and will likely be capitalized on to boost public opinion polls but perhaps more importantly this deal comes as a success to Russia. A major part of this deal is the easing of global economic sanctions on Iran. This benefits Russia by allowing them to sell weapons to Iran that they otherwise could not have or would have faced strong backlash.
This would make Iran another winner in this deal. Now with eased sanctions they can upgrade weapons systems and purchase new ones. This arguably has the potential to cause more harm in destabilizing the region than a nuclear weapon would. Iran’s military prior to this deal was filled with outdated planes and weapons, many of which were barely functioning.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s primary enemy in the region has the most to lose given the regional tensions between the two nations. A stronger Iran not only means tensions between the two countries but also the increased possibility of regional destabilization through proxy wars which may be the case in Yemen.
Iran’s rising power does not stop with these rolled off sanctions. If anything this is just the beginning. With Iran back in the global markets, their tattered economy will undoubtedly rebound and begin making very large amounts of money. This money will come from the huge deposits of hydrocarbons. Iran has the second largest reserves of natural gas and the fourth largest reserves of oil in the world. This given the rising global demand of hydrocarbons, especially natural gas means only one thing, an increasingly powerful Iran.
While this deal marks a huge diplomatic success, there are many challenges that lie ahead and many unforeseen consequences.