TFF PressInfo: The West must change its Iran policies and attitudes now

TFF PressInfo – December 20, 2013

By the TFF Board


1. That Iran, the West and other countries are in touch after decades of frozen relations indeed offers a ray of hope. The Geneva deal between the 5P+1 and Iran of November 24, 2013 can be seen as a first, very important step in what is bound to be a long process of building trust, security and co-operation. And it reduces the risk of war, a war no one can afford and no one will win. But there are also serious reasons for concern. 

2. Contrary to Western media and policy interpretation is not a fair deal but expressive of conflict a-symmetry, a winner/loser perspective that has little, if anything to do with genuine conflict-resolution and trust-building.

3. The media reports on it has been quite biased and tacit of just how strong remains the pressure on Iran and the suffering of its citizens.

4. Iran did the only right thing by accepting this deal because it a) had no choice and b) the deal undermines any future claims that Iran seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.

5. It can be stated that Iran gave about 90% to this deal. The P5+1 gave 10%. At the next round of talks the roles will have to reverse: the very hard sanctions and the oil embargo must be lifted completely. The alternative will be that the hardliners in Iran will win over the reformers which would be tragic in and of itself but also self-defeating for the West and harmful to the wider Middle East.


Read carefully the U.S. document that was published simultaneously with the deal.

It was presumably written to convince Israel and U.S. Congress members (who are already insisting on new sanctions on Iran). You’ll recognise the degree to which it backs up point 2 and 3 above. To exemplify both the wording and the spirit:

• Iran will no longer be able to use ”the cover of negotiations” to continue to advance its nuclear program;

• ”The overwhelming majority of the sanctions regime, including the key oil, banking, and financial sanctions architecture, remains in place.”

• ”If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the limited relief and impose additional sanctions on Iran.

• ”We have cut Iran’s oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd.  That’s a loss of more than $80 billion since the beginning of 2012 that Iran will never be able to recoup. Under this first step, the EU crude oil ban will remain in effect and Iran will be held to approximately 1 million bpd in sales, resulting in continuing lost sales worth an additional $4 billion per month, every month, going forward.”

This type of triumphalist attitude will end the West in a cul-de-sac. Why? Iran is a potential market of 80+ million people and a country that needs tremendous investments in new technologies. Since the 1979 Revolution and during the 8 years under President Ahmedinejad the country has sunk ever deeper down in economic crisis, mismanagement and corruption. Responding constructively and fairly to Iran’s new policy is in the interest of the West itself.

Secondly, sanctions are known from many other cases to destroy, over time, the middle class that can – if anybody – carry a new development into the future. Continuing this type of game instead of using mature, professional mediation, consultations in good faith and apply a vision based on win/win will lead to disaster, including the re-emergence of the war option. Iran has so significantly and convincingly opened up that it is now up to the West to reach out and respond with a change of attitude and policies that matches Iran’s.

Third, Iran has not invaded anyone, or threatened to do so. It’s military expenditures range about half of Israel’s with a ten times larger population. No report has ever proved that Iran is secretly about to get nuclear weapons – while such accusations have gone on since the 1980s. That Iran should be a future threat to the world borders on hysteria in a world with dozens of much more serious problems.

The wish expressed on all sides – that the Geneva Deal of November 24 shall be the first step in a long process towards normalisation and trustful co-operation – is, to become true, now almost entirely dependent upon a new deal attitude by the West. Such a new 5P+1 attitude will also benefit the Middle East. There is nothing to be gained by anyone, least of all the Iranian people, from a hurt Iran that closes itself for another decade or two because its sincere peace initiative was misinterpreted or misused by the U.S. and the EU.

The Board of the Transnational Foundation (TFF)
Lund, Sweden
December 20, 2013

Contact to Board members

Jan Oberg*, TFF director, dr.hc.
+46 738 525200

*) Oberg has just returned from a fact-finding mission over three weeks in Iran where he met with high-level officials, scholars at leading institutes, gave lectures at Tehran University and with NGOs as well as traveled widely around Iran.

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