Lessons to Be Learnt From the Iran Nuclear Deal

03/12/2013 15:40 GMT | Updated 02/02/2014 10:59 GMT

The limited agreement reached in Geneva about Iran's nuclear programme provides two very powerful lessons.

The first is that, after the agreement to remove chemical weapons from Syria, this is another example of the benefits of using diplomacy rather than military action as a tool for successful foreign policy. Further evidence that, after the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan adventures, there is another way - the legal, diplomatic way - to deal with international disputes and tensions. And that while it isn't easy or simple, it is by far the preferable approach.

The second is that we should be much more careful what we wish for in future, because it was the West's own cynical, expansive foreign policy that got us here in the first place. It was the United States of course who launched a nuclear program with Iran in 1957, when the Shah and his American Friends spoke and acted in unison. That unqualified support for Iran's 'nuclear power program' continued right up to 1979 when the Shah lost power in the Islamic revolution.

France's involvement in building Iran's nuclear capacity should also be under the spotlight. Their industrial partnership with the Iranians at the contested plutonium production plant at Arak and lasting over four decades never seems to get reported in the context of the Iran nuclear negotiations. The Iran-based Eurodif, (European Gaseous Diffusion Uranium Enrichment) Consortium was formed in 1973, with France, Belgium, Spain and Sweden the original shareholders. Germany provided pressurised water reactors and enriched uranium.

The irony of the present agreement between the P5 and Iran is that the Europeans and Americans have helped, in fact earnestly encouraged, Iran in the development of its nuclear programme since its inception. Outside of the West, China, Russia, North Korea, South Africa, Argentina and Pakistan have all at some time assisted with the progress of Iran's growing nuclear capacity.

There's a third lesson too from the deal struck in Geneva - about the importance of thinking about the impacts on future generations of the decisions we take today.

Here in the UK, replacing Trident alone adds £140bn to the nuclear bill for future generations - money that could be spent on hospitals and schools.

The Coalition's love-in with all things nuclear extends to commissioning new nuclear energy plants whilst failing to tell us where the £100bn will come from for the cost of decommissioning of the 17 we already have. The Green Party is the only nationally Party providing opposition on these issues.

The Green Party in Iran is also campaigning for a totally nuclear-free future for the country and questions the validity of national opinion polls which seem to support Iran's nuclear programme. They point to the hijacking of this year's International Labour Day celebrations under the government's banner of "nuclear energy is our indisputable right" as examples of the current propaganda being employed by the regime. We support the Iranian Green Party's stance, just as we seek a fully nuclear-free future for Britain.

The agreement is, therefore, welcome and globally should be taken as an opportunity for renewed action against nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Free Local Authorities network has suggested that the United Nations and the Finnish Government build on the momentum by holding the postponed conference on the development of a Middle East WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Free Zone as soon as it is practical to do so. And more widely the international community needs to build on its achievements by stepping up and playing a more positive role at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Preparatory Conference in New York in May next year.

The real test of the Geneva agreement will be whether it does mark a move away from the old failed model of military conflict and towards building long-term peace instead. Ultimately, though, this requires full transparency of all nuclear programmes by all countries, full international cooperation for the immediate elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and an end to future reliance on nuclear energy. Only then can we be sure that our hopes of a secure deal for the planet will be realized.