Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

No, it does not matter. Iran’s nuclear deal does not matter because deal or no deal the result at the end of the day is going to be the same. Iran had been negotiating the nuclear deal with six nations — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States for the past several years but it gained traction during the last few years. Despite so much haggling over this deal, it is still unclear whether or not Iran possesses a nuclear bomb and it is yet not clear how close the Iranians are in acquiring the bomb. What is, however, known for sure is that the six nations trying to prevent Iran from going nuclear might be the ones that will eventually facilitate Iran in building a bomb through the use of their own advanced technologies. Simply put, Iran needs a foreign source from an industrial country to continue its nuclear program and most likely a multi-billion dollar deal will be signed with companies from the negotiating nations. After all, as they say, it’s the economics, stupid. The Iranian nuclear program is not new. It has been under way since the 1960s and it had received a great push during the economic boom the oil producing countries faced during the early 1970s. The program was halted due to a fatwa (edict) issued by late Ayatollah Khomeini after the 1979 revolution and during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988). Thrice the Iraqis attacked the main nuclear facility in Bushehr and the plant had to be completely shut down. Later, the program was restarted and after much analysis western experts had concluded that Tehran did not intend to build and upgrade its nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. Iran, according to the experts, wanted to upgrade its nuclear plant purely for military purposes. And the Iranians were on the course to acquire a nuclear bomb. Some years ago, the tensions between the West and Iran soared to such an extent that use of military options against Iran came under serious discussions. In addition to the West, Israel also had that option at one time or another. But deal or no deal, Iran will go ahead with its nuclear program as they had already planned. These lines were written few days before the announcement of any deal but the main issues of the deal are simply giving Iran the signal to go ahead with its program. Many of the restrictions are going to be phased out after few years. And even though the agreement might restrict Iran to produce the “right” amount of enriched uranium but like in the past Iran could easily dupe the nuclear inspectors into believing that it is doing nothing wrong. Observers might recall how Iran broke the locks on the international monitoring systems and simply enriched uranium to a higher level. What is more ironic is that there were parallel negotiations between Iran and some western countries, mainly the United States. It was in 2012 when US President Barak Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to reach a separate agreement and they had sent secret missions to Iran. Many meetings took place between the two sides. In 2013, it is said that the current US Secretary of State John Kerry had spent more time talking with Iranian foreign minister than any other foreign official. So, why did they unnecessarily hold negotiations in Vienna in the first place? Is it the economy? Let’s be frank. Iran is a fertile place for trillion dollars investments in all the energy sectors, oil, gas and nuclear energy. The most important question is: What would be the impact of a nuclear Iran on the region? Iran is not threatened by any of its neighbors and it does not need a nuclear bomb. The Iranians might start a nuclear race with its neighbors in the Gulf region and mainly Saudi Arabia. Ironically, Iran had always being threatening its neighbors using its armed proxies in the region and had always nursed the ambition of increasing its influence in the Middle East. We have seen Iran’s role in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria. And if Iran acquires nuclear capabilities, then no one knows what would be Iran’s next step? The Gulf countries should ask Iran to provide them with all the details of the agreement. The Gulf countries should be notified of any Iranian activities on its nuclear sites. It is the Gulf countries that are under constant threat because of the location of Iran’s main nuclear facilities. After all, the West apparently did not succeed in pressuring Iran into dismantling its nuclear facilities. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. N-Deal: Does It Matter? reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.