Leading article: Russia and the art of nuclear diplomacy

Share

Experience has taught that extreme caution is in order when reporting any breakthrough in the labyrinthine diplomacy concerning Iran and its nuclear programme. And the agreement, reached in principle between Russia and Iran, that would result in Iran having its uranium enriched in Russia is at a very early stage.

With all the necessary caveats, however, yesterday's announcement constitutes progress. For weeks now, international efforts to persuade Iran to suspend its nuclear programme had seemed vain and even counter-productive. The more directly the Europeans and the United States told Iran that its decision to restart its nuclear research programme was unacceptable, the more determined Tehran seemed to be to proceed. Even the line that Iran had initially drawn between its intention to engage in research only for nuclear energy, not a nuclear bomb, seemed to become frighteningly blurred.

For all its apparent refusal to compromise, however, Iran never broke off talks completely. And while Russia might seem a questionable partner for the West in this venture, Moscow has long understood the danger that a nuclear Iran would present, not least to its own southern flank. It supported the European diplomatic effort early on.

The difficulty was to persuade Iran to make that concession. At least two obstacles stood in the way: Tehran's right as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to conduct nuclear research for peaceful purposes and the sense of Iranian national pride into which the Prime Minister, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, had successfully tapped during his election campaign. It is unrealistic to expect that these factors will not complicate implementation of an agreement, even if it is confirmed.

It is, however, in everyone's interests to make this agreement stick. Iran might have sacrificed some pride, but it will be saved from becoming an international pariah and, possibly, from a military strike. The Europeans will have their confidence in a diplomatic solution vindicated, while the United States will be able to claim that the greatest risks from Iran's nuclear programme have been averted.

Russia, perhaps, has most at stake. Not only does it have an economic interest in nuclear cooperation with Iran, it also wants to win its spurs as an international player. Moscow's overture to Hamas after its Palestinian election victory can be seen in the same light.

The priority now is for all concerned to proceed discreetly. The last thing anyone should do is to crow about concessions Iran may or may not have made. The art of diplomacy requires that everyone remain diplomatic for the duration.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower