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Daily News Analysis

Some progress at Iran-P5+1 nuclear talks

Crescent International

Is this the beginning of the west coming to grips with reality?


February 27, 2013, 15:55 EST

Following two days of talks (February 26 and 27) led by the European Union (EU) Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton, in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, between Iran and the group of P5+1 (Russia, China, the US, UK, France and Germany) representatives, Dr Saeed Jalili said today that negotiations had reached a “turning point.” Unlike past meetings, this time, the P5+1 did not merely put forward a set of demands that Iran must comply with without giving anything in return. Instead, there was some movement in their position that according to Dr Jalili, inched towards what Iran had put forward in its proposals in Moscow last June.

The P5+1 asked that the Islamic Republic stop making 20%-enriched uranium but did not insist that it must ship out all of its 170 kg of stockpile out of the country. Tehran could retain enough to fuel a research reactor. The western group also dropped its demand—that was a non-starter anyway—that Iran must shut down an underground enrichment plant at Fordow near Qom. Instead, Iran was asked only to “reduce the readiness” of Fordow while accepting more intrusive monitoring of the facility by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to one western official. Other western officials, however, put a more negative spin on it.

What was the west prepared to offer Iran in return? Tehran was offered sanctions relief on gold and other precious metals that would allow it to sidestep some banking restrictions. The ability to export petrochemical products would allow it to boost foreign currency earnings and potentially increase its domestic oil refining capacity. The P5+1 also said they would ease restrictions on Iran acquiring spare parts for its fleet of aging Boeing civilian aircraft many of which have crashed because of lack of spare parts. International Aviation experts have described such restrictions on Iran as an act of state terrorism since they jeopardize the lives of innocent civilians.

Most analysts and commentators have denounced the US-led sanctions on Iran as illegal. Sanctions have been imposed based on a massive lie, that Iran is planning to make nuclear weapons, an allegation for which the IAEA has found no evidence whatsoever despite intrusive inspections over many years. Top Iranian officials, including the Rahbar Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei, have repeatedly stressed that Iran is not making the bomb. The Rahbar has in fact gone so far as to say that all weapons of mass destruction are “haram”—forbidden in Islam—and a sin against the teachings of Islam.

Western policy, however, is not formulated based on truth or fairness. Regimes in the west demand compliance with their demands, however ludicrous because they believe they can dictate to the rest of the world. Iran’s sin is not that it is making nuclear weapons; its real sin is that it insists on remaining independent of western hegemony and refuses to surrender its rights to western rulers and their Zionist allies. After all, Iran is within its right, under the NPT, to enrich uranium for energy generation and other peaceful purposes.

The NPT also requires the P5+1 members to reduce and ultimately eliminate their massive stockpile of weapons. While Germany does not have nuclear weapons, it can acquire them in a matter of months, if it wanted. The P5 members that are so allergic to Iran’s enrichment of uranium have taken no steps to comply with their own NPT obligations by reducing their thousands of nuclear weapons. Yet their vicious propaganda is directed against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. The political nature of this campaign against the Islamic Republic is self-evident.

Following conclusion of the Almaty talks today, it was agreed that nuclear experts from all sides would meet in Istanbul on March 18 to hammer out details of the proposal. Another meeting of senior diplomats is scheduled for April 5, again in Almaty.

A western diplomat said after the talks: “I think we now have traction to get into proper detailed negotiations.” He admitted, “This is the first time we have put sanctions relief on the table. It’s more than a gesture; it’s sending a message. We have shown we are listening and are serious without giving up the major lever we have, which is the oil embargo.” In the past, western representatives simply put forward derisory demands insisting Iran must comply with them before they even consider any relaxation of the illegal sanctions the US and its allies have imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Is this the beginning of the west coming to grips with reality? One hopes that this is so but western duplicity is legendary and it would be unwise to put too much faith in their pronouncements. These have to be assessed against the practical steps they take in terms of lifting the illegal sanctions. The western diplomat who admitted that this was the first time the west had “put sanctions relief on the table,” as proposed by Russia on numerous occasions, said a deal on Iran’s 20% uranium could open the way to a more comprehensive agreement later on in which the oil and financial sanctions could be lifted in return for permanent limits on Iran’s nuclear programme and robust IAEA monitoring.

In April 2010, Brazil and Turkey had worked out a deal under which Iran agreed to ship its 20% enriched uranium to Turkey in return for fuel for its research nuclear reactor but US President Barack Obama scuttled the deal. The Brizilian President Lulu de Silva was so upset with Obama’s duplicity that he released the letter the US president had sent in advance agreeing to what Brazil and Turkey had secured from Iran.

Will this time be any different? Only time will tell but despite the sanctions, Iran has started to make great progress towards self-sufficiency and it is this aspect that scares the west. Within a few years, Iran would become self-sufficient in many fields and would not need to worry about western sanctions or any other kind of restrictions.


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