Nuke deal forces secular foreign policy
KADRİ GÜRSEL email@example.comThe interim agreement signed between the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany (P5+1) and Iran in the early hours of Sunday in Geneva is the most positive development ever since 2001, when Iran’s secret nuclear program was discovered.
With this deal, Iran is accepting to take the necessary steps to freeze its nuclear program for six months in return for limited relief from economic sanctions. If the interim deal holds, then the target is for P5+1 and Iran to strike a comprehensive and final agreement.
This is a very significant achievement for the Obama administration and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and lastly for the international system.
Accordingly, the contribution of the deal to our country’s security will also be huge.
Before we go into what these gains would be, let’s take a look at what has been achieved with the deal:
According to The Guardian’s story posted on its website, Iran will stop enriching uranium above 5 percent, reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20 percent-enriched uranium or convert it to oxide, which makes it harder to enrich further. The medium-enriched uranium, in its hexafluoride gas form, is relatively easy to turn into weapons-grade material, so it is a major proliferation concern.
Iran will not increase its stockpile of low-enrichment uranium.
It will freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.
Additionally, Iran is not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.
In exchange for Iran fulfilling its commitments, its oil sales revenue, approximating just over $4bn, will be released from frozen accounts and restrictions on the country’s trade in gold, petrochemicals, automobile and plane parts will be suspended.
Now, we can take a short look at how Turkey would be affected should the deal reach a happy end…
Let alone Iran transforming into a nuclear armed power, even this country becoming a nuclear threshold country with the capacity to produce warheads is enough to change the region’s geopolitics against Turkey and create a historical asymmetry between the two countries.
When it is a nuclear Iran in question, we can talk about two options from Turkey’s point of view. The consequences of both of them are worse than each other.
One option is NATO’s nuclear protection shield: A Turkey that is being governed by a Sunni Islamist party and one that has adopted a foreign policy in its region according to this ideology for the past four odd years are in question. When Turkey takes shelter behind the NATO protection shield in the face of the Shiite Iranian regime turning into a nuclear power, it will become a “prisoner” of its regional role.
The second is the “nuclear ability”: For Turkey to opt for developing its own nuclear capacity in the name of balancing out Iran, given that it will blow up all of its alliance relations and will cause Turkey to be perceived as a threat in its region, it will be an even worse option.
Hence, the nuclear deal will protect Turkey from both of these situations; it will also provide a relaxation in bilateral relations.
On the other hand, an Iran that has given the assurances of a peaceful nuclear program to the P5+1 and that has solved its problem, because it would be freed from the isolation and sanction shackles, will find the opportunity to implement its regional policies much more comfortably. When this happens, the new tension axis in the region will be between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. The only option for Turkey in this new environment that would provide the opportunity for it to play an effective and acceptable role to all sides, according to the essence of its presumed identity of a democratic republic, is to adopt a secular foreign policy in its own region.
Unfortunately, this capacity does not exist in our country’s current foreign policy setters.
Kadri Gürsel is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this abridged piece was published on Nov 25. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.