The risks Iran will face if final nuclear deal fails


Analysis: The risks Iran will face if final nuclear deal fails
By REUTERS/04/09/2015

ANKARA – Failure to finalize a framework agreement between Iran and the six major powers aimed at curbing the country’s sensitive nuclear work could profoundly destabilize the Islamic Republic, analysts and politicians say. Iranians’ hopes of ending their international isolation have risen so high since the accord that failure to finalize it would generate levels of dismay that could hurt the authorities, even if the West was portrayed as the guilty party, analysts say. “Finally it is over. The isolation is over. The economic hardship is over. (President Hassan) Rouhani kept his promises,” said university student Mina Derakhshande, who was among a cheering crowd on Friday. “Failure of the talks will be end of the world for us Iranians. I cannot tolerate it.”

Managing popular expectations will be more difficult in Iran now, said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “If the deal doesn’t come to fruition, most Americans won’t notice, while most Iranians will be devastated,” Sadjadpour said. The tentative deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear work, reached on Thursday in Lausanne, revived hopes of an end to sanctions in return for limits on its atomic program, opening the way for economic reform and international recognition.

While the man who ultimately matters, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has remained silent over the agreement, some hardline conservatives have taken off the gloves. The deal has heightened their anger over pragmatist Rouhani’s 2013 election as president on a pledge to improve foreign relations and revive the economy. But politicians and analysts say Khamenei approved “any step taken” by the Iranian nuclear negotiators, and the tension will abate if Khamenei supports the deal. “Without the leader’s approval, the Iranian team could not agree to the framework deal in Lausanne. There is no rift among top decision-makers over the framework agreement,” said a senior Iranian official, who asked for anonymity.

The establishment groups behind Rouhani’s election win — the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), powerful clerics and influential politicians — have united in public to support the nuclear deal, which was praised by the president as a “historic opportunity” that would benefit everyone. Speaker Ali Larijani said parliament “supported the deal,” Iran’s military chief and a close ally to Khamenei, General Hassan Firouzabadi, congratulated Khamenei on the “success” of Iranian negotiators and thanked Rouhani for the deal and , the semi-official Fars news agency reported. “The Iranian nation and the Revolutionary Guards appreciate the negotiators’ honest political efforts,” said IRGC’s top commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, Fars reported on Tuesday. But criticism of Rouhani has also increased, with hardline conservatives casting the government as insufficiently robust on the nuclear program. The critics, wary of any detente with the West they fear would imperil the Islamic Revolution, hold influential positions in parliament, the security forces and intelligence services.

“Iran has exchanged its saddled horse for one with a broken bridle,” Fars quoted Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the hardline Kayhan daily and an adviser to Khamenei, as saying.