By Mariah Franklin
In the summer of 2015, after decades of animosity between Iran and the United States, Iran agreed to set limits on its nuclear program and submit to inspections to verify its compliance in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the U.S and the U.N. Security Council. (Blair). Opinion is divided as to the efficacy of the accord. Republican leadership in the United States Congress threatened a revolt should the deal take effect, and prominent Iranian clergy have indicated ambivalence to the agreement, but moderates in both countries have continued to search for common ground (Hemmer, Switzer; Lee, Solomon).
The United States has a long history with Iran; from the mid-twentieth century, the U.S. government supported Persian royal Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was criticized by both the Persian working class and the clergy for his political repressions as well as his economic policies. Responding to Pahlavi’s leadership, by the late nineteen-seventies a movement comprised largely of religious youth forced Pahlavi from power in a revolution from which he fled to Egypt. The movement that had exiled Pahlavi from Iran also protested the Unites States’ influence in the country; they attacked the American embassy, holding Americans hostage for over a year (Chun). Following the revolution, the United States cut diplomatic ties with Iran and enacted sanctions on Iranian trade. Further sanctions, including restrictions on Iranian banking, shipping, and nuclear industries were rolled out in later years when Iran failed to cease uranium-enrichment production (United States Dept. of the Treasury).
“Solving” Iran’s nuclear program would be the work of years. The idea of an accord is itself a highly contentious proposition for both Iran and the United States. The proposed solution, that Iran submit to checks on its uranium-enrichment program, has come under fire for its presumed unenforceability, although its strictures will likely push the date by which Iran will possess weapons-grade uranium from several months in the future to a year. According to the deal reached in Vienna, the United States will lift all nuclear program-related sanctions on Iran, which could release over one-hundred million dollars in U.S. money to Iranians; this could, in turn, lead to a broader, more society-based thaw in relations between the two countries.
Looking outwards from Iran’s nuclear program, one begins to see familiar motifs. The increasing interconnectedness of the world system becomes particularly evident when examining Germany and France — both countries did profitable business with pre-sanctions Iran, and both came out in enthusiastic support of the deal (Crowley). Globalization has been the subject of recriminations for many years, but it has also played a part in establishing the beginnings of a more encompassing rapport between nations.