Iran and the P5 + 1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are currently engaging in historic negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The Joint Plan of Action (JPA), signed in November 2013 and entered into force in January 2014, gives the parties six months to solve the international dispute with a final deal. This fragile détente followed the election of Hassan Rouhani – considered by some to be a voice for moderation in Iran – as president last June. These developments triggered enthusiastic reactions within Asian powers soon after the interim agreement was signed. Several countries in the region have vested interests in Iranian oil for their energy needs as well as important concerns regarding nuclear nonproliferation and regional security issues.
On June 9-10, U.S. officials held bilateral meetings with their Iranian counterparts in Geneva on the status of Iran’s nuclear program. Analysts have predicted the talks will be extended an additional six months to resolve outstanding issues, but the JPA formally expires a year after it entered into force. As the July 20, 2014 extension deadline approaches, this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest highlights the evolution of diplomatic relations over the past months between Iran and countries in the Nuclear Debates in Asia project. (more…)Continue Reading →
As part of the Rising Powers Initiative’s efforts to analyze and compare the foreign policy thinking in today’s rising powers, we are pleased to announce the launch of the RPI Research Database, a specialized bibliography of books and articles on targeted subjects that reflect the RPI’s ongoing research. Each entry contains an abstract or summary of the article or book. The Database has been compiled by our research staff and is frequently updated with articles and books from 1990 onwards, with emphasis on the latest academic and policy publications.
Countries and regions in the Database include:
- South Korea
- Southeast Asia and ASEAN
Topics and subjects in the Database include:
- Identity and foreign policy
- Energy security, maritime security, and Asian security
- Nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation
- Regional political economy
- U.S. foreign policy in Asia
The Research Database can be accessed here. We hope that this interactive Database is a useful tool for conducting research on rising powers in Asia and for keeping up to date on the latest relevant academic and policy publications. We encourage you to share the Database as a resource with your colleagues, and welcome your feedback and suggestions.Continue Reading →
Negotiators from Iran and the so-called P5+1 powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany – announced on November 24 that they reached a deal to address suspicions over Iran’s nuclear activities. In exchange for Iran freezing key elements of its nuclear program, the P5+1 offered $4.2 billion in foreign exchange and to ease some sanctions on Iranian energy and economic sectors for the next six months. The deal aims to be a sign of good faith between all parties as talks on a broader permanent deal continue.
This announcement sparked a dialogue within countries in Asia with their own varying levels of nuclear capacity. Since Iran’s primary foreign buyers of its oil are China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Japan, the agreement provides additional avenues for increased energy trade between Asia and Iran. However, the deal also opens up questions about the intersections of nuclear energy, nonproliferation policies, and regional security in Asia. In this Nuclear Debates in Asia Digest by Timothy Westmyer, research and program assistant at RPI, we explore how countries in our Nuclear Debates in Asia project – China, India, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam – reacted to the Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal and how they are addressing these pressing questions.
China, India, South Korea, and Thailand were among countries which recently received a waiver from U.S. sanctions targeting countries that import Iranian crude oil because these countries have reduced their dependence on Iranian supplies over the past several months. They will be allowed to continue to purchase Iranian oil over the next 180 days without penalties.
China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, said the agreement “will help to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation system [and] safeguard peace and stability in the Middle East.”
- -The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang said it was a “mutually beneficial agreement which lives up to the broad expectation of the international community” and that “China will continue to play a constructive role and actively promote peace talks.” (more…)
In today’s Foreign Affairs, RPI authors Farideh Farhi and Saideh Lotfian analyze Iranian foreign policy after the election using the schools of thought outlined in the RPI’s Worldviews of Aspiring Powers edited volume:
“As Iranians head to the polls today, much of the world is focused on the country’s domestic politics, particularly given the unrest that followed the last presidential election. A question that has gotten less attention is how the choice of president will impact the country’s foreign policy. But in Iran, like in other countries, domestic politics play a big role in foreign policy. The election has exposed the choices available to decision-makers and the political limits they face.
As we wrote in Worldviews of Aspiring Powers, two basic tensions underpin almost all the foreign policy perspectives in Iran. The first tension is between Iran’s outright rejection of the current international order and its desire to improve its own position within that order. The second tension is between the country’s sense of importance as a regional and global player and its impulse to emphasize Iran’s insecurities and strategic loneliness. The one guiding principle of Iranian foreign policy that is in no way up for debate is nationalism, specifically an emphasis on national sovereignty in the face of global arrogance.
These three broad forces shape the boundaries beyond which political players cannot step if they wish to remain relevant. Those seeking improved relations or accommodation with the global order, for example, need to walk a fine line between being seen as promoting the national interest and falling prey to sazesh (collusion). Meanwhile, those advocating resistance to the West and self-sufficiency have to be mindful of the country’s official desire to be the region’s technological and economic leader. And, one way or another, everyone must package their positions in a wrapper of nationalism.
In short, there is near consensus on the broad objectives of Iranian foreign policy: enhance Iran’s role in the Middle East and maintain the country’s Islamic identity despite the adversity of global powers. Where there is room for debate is over the scope of Iran’s foreign policy and the means through which it might achieve these objectives. It would be a mistake to reduce these discussions to a contest between hard-liners and ideologues on the one hand, and those who want accommodation with the West on the other.”
Read the full article here.Continue Reading →
Reviewed by Meredith Oyen (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
The impact of domestic politics on foreign policy is a subject of long-standing interest for both historians of American foreign relations and political scientists concerned with international relations. A new volume edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally, Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, brings together prominent scholars from across the world to explore the domestic dimension of foreign policy in five important countries. The core argument of this book is that domestic debates powerfully affect foreign policy, sometimes exerting as much influence as external factors. The authors consider the implications of the contesting worldviews not only for each country’s foreign policy, but also for U.S. foreign policy responses. Worldviews of Aspiring Powers therefore offers both a model for future studies of domestic debates in other rising or aspiring powers as well as some thoughtful advice for policymakers.
In order to develop a common vocabulary for discussing and analyzing these debates across the countries under study, Nau’s introductory chapter discusses three aspects of foreign policy under debate everywhere: the scope, means, and goals of policy. By analyzing these three aspects across three broad categories of worldviews–national, regional, and global–he sets up a broad framework of twenty-seven possible worldviews, which the authors of the individual chapter then use as a guide to explore the unique variations of the country under their consideration. Nau makes clear from the outset that reality does not fit the generalized model perfectly, and each country under consideration possesses attributes that make it unique. (more…)Continue Reading →
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) recently convened in Tehran for its 16th Summit, drawing attention to the relevance of the NAM, members’ relations with Iran, and the ongoing turmoil in Syria. This post highlights commentary on the summit in the Indian, Russian and Chinese press.
The NAM summit drew considerable attention and commentary in India, due to both India’s status as a founding member of NAM and the bilateral meetings that PM Manmohan Singh had with leaders of Iran and Pakistan on the sidelines of the summit.
- The Hindu, known for its mix of leftist and soft-nationalist viewpoints, printed an editorial hailing the NAM’s significance and outlining two reasons why the summit was important for India: Singh’s public opposition to intervention in Syria was India’s “clearest statement of differences with the US on this issue,” and his meetings with the Iranian leadership demonstrated that “New Delhi’s relations with Tehran would not be dictated by the U.S.”
- In contrast, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri of the Hindustan Times acknowledged that anti-Americanism no longer characterizes the NAM. Instead, the paper’s foreign editor argued, the NAM as potential as a multilateral forum that could “provide a means to limit or slow down the expansion of Chinese interests in the world.”
- C. Raja Mohan, known for his great-power realist views in his Indian Express column, dismissed the “utter incoherence of the NAM as a collective political entity.” According to Mohan, the real winner at the NAM summit was Egypt’s new president Mohamed Morsi, whose attendance defied America’s wishes and whose public statement in support of the Syrian opposition riled the Iranian host.
- In the usually liberal-globalist paper The Times of India, an opinion piece similarly lauded Egyptian president Morsi for asserting an independent course of foreign policy: “NAM enables its member nations to…reject Washington’s current foreign policy… (more…)
In advance of the G8 and G20 meetings held at Camp David, Maryland, and in Los Cabos, Mexico, in May and June 2012, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted two workshops to examine the pressures placed on international institutions as a result of changing international power dynamics. Approximately forty thought leaders from the private sector, government, civic sector, and academia, including RPI Co-PI Deepa Ollapally, came together in New York and Chicago as part of an ongoing Chicago Council research project on Rising Powers and a New Emerging Order. This working paper by Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, Chicago Council senior fellow on multilateral institutions, and Jana Chapman Gates, project director, summarizes the findings of the two workshops. These workshops were made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Learn more and download the working paper.Continue Reading →
At the Third U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue held last Wednesday (June 13) in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Indian Minister of External Affairs Shri S.M. Krishna announced in a joint statement several agreements on strategic cooperation, security, energy, trade, and education. This post examines the key issues that garnered the most attention in the Indian media.
Overall assessments of the high-level bilateral talks took note of India’s usual strategic restraint and desire for autonomy.
- The Times of India contrasted America’s sense of urgency and impatience with India’s much more cautious attitude and slow-moving pace. “New Delhi’s views…are tempered by years of experiencing what is said to be Washington’s whimsical and near-sighted policies.”
- The left-leaning Hindu observed that this Strategic Dialogue ” lacked the energy” of the previous round, with Washington pre-occupied with the upcoming election. On the other hand, The Indian Express faulted Delhi’s coalition government for its weak domestic support and hence inability to deliver on international expectations.
Media coverage focused on two main developments: Washington’s announcement prior to the Strategic Dialogue that it will exempt India from sanctions related to importing oil from Iran, and the U.S.-India decision to begin holding formal trilateral consultations with Afghanistan.
- The Times of India reported that New Delhi “welcomed warmly” the sanctions exemption, whereas the The Indian Express characterized India’s reaction as “cautious.” The Express also published an op-ed by Harsh V. Pant, a U.K.-based academic, who explained that “Iran has now only a marginal role in India-U.S. relations.”
- On Afghanistan, an editorial in the hard-nationalist Pioneer attributed Washington’s “new-found love for India” to the sharp deterioration in U.S.-Pakistan relations. However, commentator Jyoti Malhotra also wrote in the Business Standard that this is a ” great leap forward for the Americans.”
Another issue that garnered much attention in the Indian press but minimal coverage in the U.S. media was India’s ongoing request to gain access to two suspects in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, currently in U.S. custody. The Hindu asked, is India’s request “falling on deaf ears?”Continue Reading →
Can India sustain Iran policy?
17 February 2012
As the situation in the West Asia careens towards war between Israel, US and Iran, India finds itself in perilous policy waters again. New Delhi’s refusal to take cognizance of the fast changing situation in the region, its return to an increasingly ideological foreign policy template coupled with a tendency for strategic procrastination is leading it into a no-win strategic situation.
Iran’s nuclear advances are reaching a stage where something has to give. A prominent essay published recently in the New York Times by the Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman suggested that Israeli leaders are coming close to a decision on attacking the Iranian nuclear programme. Indeed Bergman concluded after his interviews with Israeli decision-makers that Israel would strike Iran this year. Of course, as Bergman himself admitted in a subsequent interview, some of this might be strategic posturing by the Israeli leadership to put pressure on the US, but it is also true that Israel is increasingly feeling the pressure to act. Once Iran crosses the nuclear ‘capability’ threshold, it does not matter whether it actually builds nuclear weapons. And the favourite parlour games in capitals from Washington to New Delhi about whether Iran has the international legal right to walk up to the edge of the cliff is going to matter little because Israel’s worry is an existential one, and much more important to Israel than abstract points of law.