Time in, time out

TEHRAN’S EAGERNESS to strike an understanding with the West is widely evident. After having braved the storm at home, as radical elements were against any kind of cooperation with the United States and Europe, Iran now feels that time is running out for negotiating a permanent accord on the country’s nuclear programme.

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Published: Mon 29 Sep 2014, 9:41 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 9:45 PM

That impression was substantiated with what President Hassan Rohani had to say as he expressed his concern over the slow pace of movement in the United Nations sponsored six-nation talks. As the new deadline for a permanent deal is set for November 24, Rohani has warned that no amount of sanctions can intimidate the Islamic Republic and the best way to go is to agree on a detailed accord over technical and political salient features of the dispute.

These words, as the UN General Assembly session is underway in New York, highlight the desire and intention of Tehran to make progress after a series of detailed discussions with the West in Vienna and Geneva for more than a year. Rohani, in a departure from anti-US rhetoric, remarked that relations between Iran and the US did not have to remain hostile forever. That is a promising statement, which will go a long way in erecting the edifice of cooperation between the two countries, and at the same time usher in an era of congeniality for other countries to end their estrangement with Iran.

With the general understanding that much water has flown down the bridge since the nuclear talks resumed last year, it is hoped that both the parties, especially the European Union, which has taken great strides to broker the dialogue, will sooner than later agree on the terms and conditions of engagement. That is a must in an era when political cooperation with Iran is extremely important, as the West and its Arab allies struggle to exterminate the ISIS militants. On the patterns of cooperation in Afghanistan where the US and Iran joined hands to take out Taleban and Al Qaeda, both the countries have to reenact that module in Iraq and Syria.

Taking into account the immense influence that the Islamic republic has over the military and political establishments of Baghdad and Damascus, as well as the utmost leverage over the Hezbollah militia, Washington should not miss the bus and hop on to Tehran before it gets too late. A landmark nuclear deal will act as a catalyst in scaling down bitterness and animosity — and rapidly lead to renewed understanding over host of intricate global issues, including terrorism, drug-trafficking and trade. The inroads that the IAEA and the US made with South Africa, Libya and Argentina — to quote a few instances — in neutralising their nuclear programmes are in need of being studied as a test case for Iran. For that to happen the West has to do away with the regime of sanctions as a gesture of goodwill, instantly.

Rohani and Obama have another opportunity this week in New York to reiterate their last year’s resolve to get talking and stop looking back at the bitterness of history.

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