Agreement reached over future of Iran's nuclear programme | What's Left

The deal between Iran and the EU3+3 (United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Russian Federation, and United States) is a victory for those who have been calling for a diplomatic solution to an issue which, for much of the past decade, was a ready pretext for war. The unlocking of Iranian assets will also increase its regional influence and likely instigate a conventional arms race with Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf-Arab monarchies. Such a development will bolster the stocks of American weapons manufacturers.

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Iran’s extra-regional influence may prove to be the most interesting outcome of the agreement.

While Iranian negotiations were under-way, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) (led by China, Russia and five other ex-Soviet republics) held its annual meeting and expanded its membership for the first time since 2001 to include India and Pakistan. The President of Iran was present at the meeting and struck important deals with both India and Pakistan.

Even though the SCO began as a security-pact focused on stemming the expansion of NATO, it has evolved into an economic organization focused on the facilitation of trade.

Iran and India have been trading for decades, but Iranian-Pakistani trade relations have been effectively frozen since Pakistani generals overthrew the country’s democratically elected leader in 1977 and attempted to thwart Iran’s revolution in 1979. While there have been serious talks of a gas-pipeline between Iran and Pakistan since 2013, Pakistan has been held back by the the United States and Saudi Arabia. The lifting of economic sanctions against Iran will likely change that.

The utility of the deal cannot be underestimated as Iran is keen to expand its economy and increase its leverage. While Europe and the United States take their time to re-engage with Iran, it is through the SCO, that the republic will quite literally find a life-line.

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