A framework for a nuclear deal with Iran was signed in Lausanne on Thursday after eight days of talks, prompting media outlets to weigh in on what was described by Reuters as “the most significant step toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution.” While President Obama hailed the agreement as “historic”, commentators speculated this-is-not-a-deal and not even an agreement.
The end of the US-Iranian cold war or the path to a nuclear holocaust? Most sites viewed the deal as something in between. While praising Washington for the “detailed fact sheet” it released on the breakthrough, AP said the deal leaves “major questions” unresolved, including the question of Iran’s trustworthiness and the possible response should it go back on its obligations (or, in AP’s words, “cheat”).
The Guardian’s take on the deal focused on “the winners and losers,” with US, EU and Iranian leaders comprising the former and Israeli, Saudi and Republican leaders (whose “rebellion” against the deal is already making headlines) comprising the latter. No mention was made of Iranian hardliners, who may “mobilize for a fight” against the agreement, nor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose motives for backing the deal are said to be mixed (stemming in part from his desire to ensure no sanctions impede Iran from dealing with Russia and working with it, according to Newsweek) – nor of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, which were full of praise for Iran’s “victory.”
Most coverage of the deal, however, went beyond winners and losers to scrutinize the effect the deal could have on various global and regional players – from Washington’s “long-standing Gulf allies,” now worried a deal would create a new power balance in the region at their expense, to other Middle Eastern Sunni states, in which Iranian “empowerment” could fuel sectarian strife, to Russia, whose position could likewise be threatened. Other outlets, such as The New York Times, took a closer look at how the compromise had actually, finally, been reached (apparently, it takes more than coffee and all-nighters). And outlets across the board devoted extensive coverage to the economic angle, particularly the post-agreement dip in oil prices – raising yet more speculations as to what the deal has in store.
As time goes on, more and more is being released about the lack of coherence between the Iranian understanding of the deal, and the American understanding. Like the NYTimes title outline-of-iran-nuclear-deal-sounds-different-from-each-side. What does this teach us about the future?