The isolation of Iran is diminishing almost by the day and ultimately the world is going to be a better place for that, notwithstanding the many apprehensions that still surround it. Iran is an ancient country, one that cradled modern civilisation. It predates Islam by millennia and has seen a range of regimes come and go. Currently a theocracy which is in an evolutionary phase, it is moving back on to the world stage courtesy theagreement on July 14, 2015 that seeks to limit Iranian nuclear activities for the coming decade. As a part of that agreement, the UN nuclear oversight group, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has ended a decade-long probe into allegations that Iran had sought to develop nuclear weapons.
The verdict on whether it did or did not is equivocal to say the very least. The details of Iranian activity in that direction are impossible to reconstruct historically, doubtless because of track-covering by Iran that was engaged in activities relating to such development between 2003 and 2009. They tapered off after that and are now at a point where the rest of the world is going to have to learn to live with an Iran that has nuclear capacity but not nuclear weaponry. For decades, Iran has been subject to crippling sanctions that have hindered its development. The Vienna agreement had the lifting of those sanctions at its core, and the drawing of a line by the IAEA will trigger an easing that will be of benefit to those that wish to trade with Iran. The country can now come out from under the covers and re-engage with the international community. This does not mean that Iran has won the trust of the rest of the world because it has not. The history of concealment is too long for unquestioning trust to be established quickly or easily, and a set of confidence-building measures have to be worked through if a wider trust is to be established. That said, this is a development we warmly welcome.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2015.