Given the current agreement framework, what exactly is the long term (e.g., benefit in the situation in 2030) for everyone involved in negotiating with Iran as compared to situation today? I'm specifically looking to committed/guaranteed benefit spelled out in the agreement, NOT wishful goals that may or may not come to pass depending on your degree of optimism.

Iran obviously gets 10-15 years of no sanctions, which resuscitates its economy; lets it work on weapons delivery platforms (e.g. missiles) and accumulate some (though less than before) fissionable material - assuming they don't cheat and enrich in secret anyway. What do the Western countries get permanently in exchange other than the can got kicked down the road by several years?

(it's obvious what the benefit is to the current governments, but not to the countries long term geopolitical interests which is what the question is about).

To clarify what I'm asking - aside from not being the legal owners of 10-15 years worth of stockpiling weapons grade fissionable materials, did Iran explicitly concede anything in the agreement which would make its position in any way, shape or form, worse off in 2030 (or whenever agreement expires), compared to their position in 2015? Or conversely, that provenly and materially makes the P5 materially and explicitly better off in 2030 compared to their situation in 2015?

  • Isn't what we get out of it what we usually get out of it: cheaper oil? – user1530 Apr 7 '15 at 20:55
  • @DA. - (1) didn't oil jump 3% last couple of days? (I didn't check so could be wrong); (2) you need to back up the assertion that a belligerant ascending Iran gaining major funding due to sanctions lifting would in fact reduce oil prices (Iran attacking KSA may probably NOT be good for oil cheapness) – user4012 Apr 7 '15 at 20:58
  • that's been the major talking point as of late: with sanctions being lifted, their wells are going to go back to full production likely flooding the market and lowering prices: google.com/… (It's all energy speculation, of course, but certainly sounds plausible) – user1530 Apr 7 '15 at 21:02
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    @DA. - I assume nothing of the sort. Just the opposite. But i'm willing to entertain serious answers trying to prove my cynicism wrong – user4012 Apr 7 '15 at 21:58
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    @DVK Whether you wish to admit it or not, your question is everything but factual and makes a number of questionable assumptions and insinuations. Of course, it's more comfortable for you to pretend it's political (after all, that's how you treat everything) but I am sure that if you were really seeking factual information, you would be able to find a more neutral formulation. – Relaxed Apr 9 '15 at 9:44

Bluntly, they don't get anything concrete, but mainly because that's not the goal of the deal. The point isn't to get as many concessions as they can; it's to stabilize the region.

The Brookings Institute has this to say about it (US perspective, emphasis added):

At heart, this is a fight over what to do about Iran’s challenge to U.S. leadership in the Middle East and the threat that Iranian geopolitical ambitions pose to U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Proponents of the deal believe that the best way for the United States to deal with the Iranian regional challenge is to seek to integrate Iran into the regional order, even while remaining wary of its ambitions. A nuclear deal is an important first step in that regard, but its details matter little because the ultimate goal is to change Iranian intentions rather destroy Iranian capability.

Obviously, this is far from foolproof, and there's no guarantee that it will stabilize the region in the long term. This is where the main disagreement lies, not in the details of who gets what.

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    The problem is that the one thing they are going for (stability) is intangible, and not guaranteed at all. But it is surely the "long term benefit" of the whole thing (if it works as planned, obviously). I'll look for a better analysis in a bit, but I don't think anyone has made the claim that there is anything "concrete" to begin with. – Geobits Apr 8 '15 at 13:22
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    that's an assumed consequence. In the context of the question, the "stability" would be a benefit only if the agreement explicitly specified "as part of the agreement, Iran guarantess to stop behaving like it was and takes steps X, Y and Z towards stability". – user4012 Apr 8 '15 at 13:26
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    @Relaxed - No. When I give you $1000 loan to attend college, with the loan agreement stipulating that you pay me back $1100 7 years from now, my benefit is $100 7 years from now. It is not that you will be an educated and hopefully more productive member of society in the context of the loan agreement, despite the fact that it may be my goal in loaning you money for college. Not unless the loan document requires you - for example - to apply your degree skills to some community service for 3 years past graduation, etc... etc. (that you promise to deliver). Wishes aren't agreed benefits – user4012 Apr 8 '15 at 13:42
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    @DVK I don't really see the relevance of this analogy and why you would care about that per se. But I am beginning to better understand what you are looking for. if that's what you are interested in, then by all means as a new question because “benefits” really isn't the right word for it. Commitment maybe? – Relaxed Apr 8 '15 at 13:47
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    @Relaxed - Done – user4012 Apr 8 '15 at 13:47

Reaching an agreement is what sanctions are ostensibly for and they only make sense if you have concrete demands. The level of sanctions imposed to Iran are quite extraordinary, states just don't shun each others like that because they don't like each other. So those sanctions can't be justified if no agreement is in principle possible and the question becomes: What could an alternative agreement look like?

I am not a specialist but everything I read suggests that the agreement severely curtails Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon while the monitoring remains in place and only includes symbolic concessions. Obviously, a large country with significant financial, industrial and scientific resources will always in principle be able to restart a nuclear weapon program at some point in the future. But you can't just wish the Iranian regime away and avoid that so this agreement is really as good as it gets as far as this particular issue is concerned.

Many people in the US seem to think everything was on the table, even some form of military action, and maintaining sanctions indefinitely until you get a regime to your liking is fair game but I am not sure that even European countries see it that way and China and Russia certainly would not tolerate it. UN sanctions and international buy-in is what has been so effective in hurting the Iranian economy. Without them, you could be left with something like the US is doing to Cuba, sanctions that don't bite that much and would have even less influence on a far-away country with oil resources.

And, if the agreement real holds, 10-15 years of stability or containment, is a good long-term benefit. Unless you are deluding yourself into thinking “we” can reshape countries and societies from afar (we have seen how that went of late), seeking some “permanent resolution”, whatever that means, isn't a realistic policy goal. How would 2030 be better if Western countries did not accept what is undoubtedly the best deal that was conceivably possible?


A deal has been done about a non-issue that stirred up national sentiments in Iran. The West does not lose anything here because the entire threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program was due to irrational paranoia. The Iranian conservatives, on the other hand, will lose a lot of their political power due to this deal. Their argument (that most Iranians accept, however pro-Western and anti establishment they are) is that the West had improperly tried to coerce Iran into giving up their peaceful nuclear program.

If it is accepted as a fact in a country that foreign powers want to improperly impose their will on that country on a certain point, then the liberals arguing for better ties with those foreign countries will have a hard time putting forward their argument. It totally weakens the political base of the liberals, as the conservatives are seen to be correct.

In Iran, however, there was also another force at work. The sanctions made Iranians think again about the way they were arguing their case. That led to a more moderate president being elected. The fact that he did succeed to negotiate a deal with the West is a huge boost for the moderate and liberals in Iran (note that while Russia and China were also part of the negotiations, to them the Iranian nuclear issue was never a problem, this was only ever a dispute between Iran and the West plus its Arab allies).

What will likely happen in 15 years from now? What we're likely to see is an Iran where the people enjoy a lot more political freedoms. The economy will have improved lot. Western companies will have invested a lot in the Iranian oil and gas industry. Iran's nuclear program will only make news headlines if Western companies get involved in the Iranian nuclear industry. That may well happen as the World needs to make huge investments in the nuclear sector to deal with the threat posed by climate change. We may well see the West changing the deal with Iran about the Arak reactor, because in the future we do need to produce large amounts of plutonium.

The whole problem with nuclear energy is that if you only use U-235 then using nuclear energy to providing the World with all of its current requirement for energy, would cause all the known uranium reserves to be used up in a century. However, if you use nuclear reactions to convert U-238 into PU-239 and use Th-232 to produce U-233 which is also fissile (using so-called fast breeder reactors), then the known reserves will last 30,000 years.

In summary, the West suffers from WMD-o-phobia, Iranophobia and Radiophobia, which has caused a lot of damage to the environment, the World economy, and the political situation in the Mid East. The negotiations with Iran and the deal that has been agreed to will have contributed a lot toward the West coming to terms with these issues, the World will be a lot better off as a result.

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    Yes, the West was as wrong about Iran as Russia is about Ukraine. Just like the pro-Western Ukrainians are not genocidal fascist maniacs intent on committing genocide against ethnic Russians, despite what the Russian media suggest, the Iranians are not intent to build nukes to wipe Israel off the map, despite insinuations in the Western media. Can you argue from facts taken out of context that they are consistent with either scare story? Of course, you can, but that doesn't make the allegations true. – Count Iblis Apr 9 '15 at 19:18
  • But while Ukrainians have never said their intention to commit genocide against ethnic Russians, the leadership of Iran continues to publicly chant the mantra "Death to America, Death to Israel." They have repeatedly expressed their desire to destroy the state of Israel, and to a lesser extent, America. Even during negotiations. Should we not take them at their words? If history has taught us anything it's that when people threaten to destroy you, they will more often then not follow it up with actions. – afeygin Apr 16 '15 at 23:10
  • @afeygin you have to remember that from all points of view the state of israel is basically a colony which forces the indiguous people out and the state of israel allow discrimination on law level against non Jewish people. - So death to isreal is basically self preservation: If you don't kill them they will kill you. – paul23 Aug 9 '19 at 16:58
  • @paul23: Have you ever looked at a map? Israel is a tiny sliver. Iran is a large country, nowhere near Israel. There is no "self preservation" there. Israel is as much of a threat to Iran as Belize is to the United States. Also, the Jews ARE the indigenous peoples of Israel. Jews are named after Judea, the southern half of the ancient kingdom of Israel. They have been living continuously in the land for at least 3000 years. Finally, there is no legal discrimination in Israel against any minority. Everyone votes, gets the same services, etc. Do you research before posting obvious falsehoods. – afeygin Aug 14 '19 at 16:03
  • No if you look into the ancient kingdom of israel you notice that they are a very murderous state who conquered it by literary raping and "implanting" the women of people living there previously as a means to "conquer land". But that doesn't really matter, lots of people have lived "somewhere sometimes". Jewish are the worst murderers in history, soon there will be more murders by jewish soldiers than germans in ww2 on jewish people both "protecting their country". So if you support israel you should also be positive about germany in second world war. – paul23 Aug 14 '19 at 23:28

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