Iran Nuclear Deal – chance for peace or nuclear threat?

On 14 July 2015, the UN Security Council together with Germany and Iran reached agreement on civil use of nuclear energy in Iran. Although the deal was called “historic” by many politicians, a considerable number of critics also spoke out against the agreement. This week we wanted to find how praise and criticism of the agreement were covered in our medias.

Lithuania – Obama’s success vs. Israel’s criticism

Although Lithuania was one of the countries not directly involved in negotiations, interest in the agreement was very high. There was room for praise as well as criticism. On the positive side, one found suggestions that the agreement with Iran could help control illegal armament in the Middle East. It was also presented as the only way to prevent the West from war against Tehran. Therefore the agreement was seen as a political victory for Obama’s presidency. On the negative side, Israel’s frustration was strongly underlined. In ~25% of the articles, there was room for criticism on the part of Israel:

The West awarded Iran with a “license to kill”. (Israeli minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, as quoted by delfi.lt)

Caricature

Caricature about Israel’s criticism on the Iran Nuclear Deal (source: http://www.otherwords.org)

Estonia – Israel, economy and Russia

Estonian media was very positive about the Nuclear Deal. 54% of the articles evaluated the agreement as a success, while only 17% saw it as a failure.

The economy and economic benefits were big topics in more than half of the articles. Of course Russia seems to always be an important topic in Estonia. Unsurprisingly, the effect of the deal on Russia and its economy is also analyzed in detail.

Now that the agreement is reached, it has quickly been claimed that oil prices will decrease, which should bring an even bigger economic crash to Russia. (ERR)

According to the Estonian historian Vahur Made, there is also an indirect effect on Estonia.

I would see the impact in the fact that Russia is forced to turn attention to the South and our region might not be as big of a priority in the near future for Russia. (Vahur Made, as quoted by ERR)

Israel was the biggest critic mentioned. More than two-thirds of the articles referred to it. The deal is criticized for potentially destabilizing the region.

Iran gets a jackpot, hundreds of billions worth money source, which allows it to continue aggression and terror in the region and in the world. (delfi.ee)

Survey: Almost half of the Israeli people would support attacking Iran. (headline, Postimees)

Germany – benefits for German exports

Germany showed big interest in the conclusion of the Nuclear Deal and the lifting of sanctions against Iran. The main motivation was German exports to Iran, which suffered during the years of sanctions. Therefore, it is not surprising that the deal was evaluated very positively in German media. The economy was the biggest topic. It was mentioned in almost half of the articles. This was underlined by the trip of German Minister of Economy Sigmar Gabriel shortly after the conclusion of the agreement.

Business senses billion dollar industry (headline, Tagesschau)

Iran's Capital Teheran. The country has to catch up a lot in technical issues due to years of sanctions. German companies see lots of potential. (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Iran’s Capital Teheran. The country has to catch up a lot in technical issues due to years of sanctions. German companies see lots of potential. (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung)

However, there is also doubt about the effectiveness of the deal and the conduct of business with Iran. Human rights issues in the country are only a minor topic in this context:

Economy as opening doors? (Tagesschau)

We know that there are also different views – concerning human rights, position of women in society, protection of ethnic and religious minorities. […] As friends we want to talk about it with them and we believe that it will be a fruitful dialogue for us. (German Minister of Economy, Sigmar Gabriel as quoted by Tagesschau)

There won’t be more freedom, just business. (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Israel’s position was also debated, but far less often than within the Baltic States’ media. We found references in 36% the articles. Besides Israel, Republicans in the U.S. Congress and the German network “Stop the bomb” were mentioned as being critical of the deal.

Support of anti-Semitic regime (Network “Stop the bomb” as quoted by Süddeutsche Zeitung)

The deal was evaluated as a success of diplomacy. The roles of all countries were seen as having been significant in the process. Although German diplomacy seemed most important in the beginning of the negotiations, the agreement eventually became a success of the Obama administration. The role of Russia was also praised in a few articles like:

Respect for Putin (headline, Süddeutsche Zeitung)

Russia and Putin deserve respect. The government in Moscow was not always during the nuclear negotiations an easy partner for the West, but in many decisive moments the pulled at the same string. (Süddeutsche Zeitung)

United States – Republicans vs. Obama

In the U.S. media, a heated debate was carried out among proponents and opponents of the agreement. Strong focus was placed on the state of Israel. In the Wall Street Journal, the topic was generally presented in the context of the Republicans vs. Obama. The articles also included quotes from opponents within the Democrat party:

A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, unacceptable to Israel, and unacceptable to the world. (House Minority Leader of California Nancy Pelosi as quoted in Wall Street Journal)

There were also quotes of support in the articles – although fewer in number.

While German media remained positive about upcoming business opportunities, the sentiment was not shared by U.S. media. Instead, business ambitions from Russia and China were criticized in articles like

Russia Quickly Maneuvers to Capitalize on Iran Nuclear Deal (headline, New York Times)

The alternative Vice News was also very critical of both the agreement and opposition to the agreement, as many zingy quotes were included in the articles. The video “’I Wouldn’t Let This Guy Buy a Car For Me’: Chris Christie Slams Obama on Iran Deal.” was included in the news coverage.

Russia – Oil prices, drop in rouble

The main concern in Russian media is the price of oil after the lifting of sanctions on Iran. The topic prevails in official and alternative medias. This is not surprising considering Russian dependency upon the oil and gas markets, as falling oil prices can significantly impact the Russian economy.

The deal is notably evaluated as a diplomatic victory of Tehran:

Almost all participants of the agreement have risks, besides, probably, Iran. (vesti.ru)

Russia’s role in the negotiations is underlined. In the comments it is said that the deal is the success of Putin – not Obama. However, the sentiment is not expressed in the articles themselves.

Obama is blamed for just taking to his fame what Putin accomplished. (anonymous comment)

Conclusion

The Iran deal was seen positively by most politicians. However, there were also critics speaking out in media around the world. The main opposition was seen from Israel and U.S. Republicans. The Israeli position was explained in all countries except for Russia. The Republicans appeared to have a strong voice in American media.

Benefits for the economy were mainly recognized in Estonia and Germany. On the other hand, Russian media presented the deal as a threat to oil prices and the Russian economy.

The media did not agree on whether the agreement was a success or a failure. Further developments will be closely observed.

Locations of Nuclear plants in Iran (source: Tagesschau)

Locations of Nuclear plants in Iran (source: Tagesschau)

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