While the deal seems to still be “on,” developments throughout the P5+1 seem to be shaking the core of the agreement.
Primarily, the issue is the competing and — at times — incompatible nature of the foreign policy and economic goals of the P5+1 nations. If that wasn’t enough, there is the political game being played on Capitol Hill.
In the U.S., a bipartisan bill unanimously cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 14 that would forbid President Obama from removing any legislative sanctions against Iran until the Senate can review, and potentially reject, the agreement.
Cautiously, the EU nations renewed sanctions against 32 Iranian companies and government institutions on April 7 until Iran shows significant progress. However, Russia, this week, shifted far to the other extreme.
Both Russia Today and the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, extensively covered Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to give the go-ahead to sell $800 million worth of S-300 missile hardware to Iran.
This deal has been in the works since 2010, but was put on hold because of U.N. sanctions against Iran, which the Russian government honored. However, the cash-strapped Russian economy likely affected Putin’s willingness to continue upholding sanctions.
While Russia Today portrayed this as Russian ‘business as usual’ when it comes to worldwide armaments sales, Haaretz directly portrayed it as an immediate failure of the P5+1 agreement:
“The S-300 deal we are hearing about now – in fact, the Russian renewal of the deal that was put on hold over the past several years – is a direct result of the framework agreements reached at Lausanne. This is something we warned about before the details were ironed out.” — Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon
While these missiles are defensive in nature, and probably wouldn’t do much to improve Iran’s perceived desire to arm itself with ICBMs, they would definitely strengthen Iran’s strategic capabilities against airstrikes.
With Israel’s continued threats of unilateral strikes against Iran’s nuclear production sites, improving air defense capabilities is a priority for the Iranian military.
A normalized and internationally accepted Iranian Islamic Republic would greatly affect much of (Netanyahu's) political aims and platform.David Yee, IVN Independent Author
Haaretz also reported two days earlier on the leaked details of an Israeli cabinet meeting, during which Prime Minister Netanyahu suggested that Iranian compliance was his greatest fear.
This is not totally sour grapes politics from Netanyahu; but yes, a normalized and internationally accepted Iranian Islamic Republic would greatly affect much of his political aims and platform.
But the second part of his fear is that a compliant Iran will simply ‘lull’ the world into complacency, while Iran only puts off its ambitions for a decade.
This seems somewhat unlikely, however. The amount of human capital and material hardware that would change in a decade would undermine Iran’s nuclear ambitions if they remained compliant to the P5+1 framework.
The two real questions that remain are whether Russia will remain faithful to the P5+1 framework and stop selling Iran the technology and materials needed to weaponize uranium, and whether or not the U.S. Senate will kill the deal at its first opportunity.