By Pauline Mettan, translated by Charlotte Grey
In his celebrated poem, West-ostlicher Divan, Goethe’s dedication to the Iranian poet Hafez begins “My intention is to link East and West, past and present, Persian and German, and to have the mores and modes of thought of both sides overlap one another.” And so our friendship with Iran was formed.
The Federal Republic’s commitment to denuclearisation has three major historical foundations: the Paris Agreements in 1954, the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, and the Two Plus Four Agreement. This last agreement united the two Germanys and reaffirmed the “renunciation of the manufacture, possession, and control of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.” Germany has a foreign policy centred around peace. Its aims are for a nuclear-weapon-free world where the advantages of a globalised – and regulated – world far outweigh its risks and threats.
The exhausting diplomatic marathon in Geneva on 24 November 2013 between Iran and the Group 5+1 was a demonstration of Germany’s growing importance, which was feeding all hope for a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. “This decisive step towards our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” is only, however, as German diplomat Frank-Walter Steinmeier pointed out, the beginnings of a final agreement. Until now, Iran has respected its commitments. Uranium enrichment up to 20%, which has been particularly concerning for the international community, “no longer has a place”, says the IAEA, and new centrifuges have not been installed. Nevertheless, suspicions towards the exclusively peaceful Iranian nuclear programmes continue, as it is difficult to carry out inspections to ensure that the technology is not diverted for military use. Nevertheless, there are grounds for cautious optimism. During a recent press conference, Merkel guaranteed that “Germany will continue to play its role in international negotiations with Tehran.” The nuclear threat does not only concern Israel: it concerns all of Europe.
Unfortunately, diplomatic efforts made so far run a risk of being reduced to nothing by North Korea, who is defying all international relations. Germany now faces a tall order: at the heart of the European Union, it is the main economic partner, and weighs heavily on world influence.
“Rare are the political arenas where so much patience, tenacity, and persuasion are required than in the field of disarmament”, points out Frank-Walter Steinmeier. And so negotiations continue.