From Baghdad to Moscow

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Abolqasem Qasemzadeh

If one asked what were the results of two-day talks in Iraq’s capital Baghdad between Iranian delegation and representatives of P5+1 member countries – US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – the answer is that nobody budged from their positions. As a result, instead of a two-way success, each side was successful in its own right in Baghdad. Ms. Ashton, as chief coordinator of the European Union’s foreign policy, who headed the P5+1 negotiating team, appeared before reporters for a few minutes after two-day talks. She told them about Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. She added that both sides had engaged in exchanging views while experts from two sides were missioned to prepare an agenda for the next round of negotiations in Russia’s capital, Moscow. After answering only one question, whereas over 100 reporters and journalists were present in the conference, Ashton rapidly left the press conference saying that she had a plane to catch.

Iran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, however, had apparently enough time for a lengthy interview at the end of the session. He first provided reporters with an in-depth account of Iran's nuclear energy case and conformity of Iran's nuclear energy program with International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) protocols and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Jalili also explained that Iran needs to enrich uranium up to 20 percent for scientific purposes, especially for medical uses as one million patients are currently using radio drugs in Iran. Jalili said Baghdad meeting had been positive and added that further negotiations will be conducted in Moscow on June 18-19. Iran's chief negotiator also stated that all member countries of IAEA were entitled to enrich uranium for the purpose of peaceful applications of the nuclear energy. He added that NPT has recognized this right for its members. Jalili said Iran had gone to Baghdad with the idea of “dialogue for cooperation” to announce that sanctions (plus threats) have hit a deadlock. He noted that if there is a solution to Iran's nuclear case, it should be found through negotiations.

The Baghdad meeting was bugged with two problems. The first problem was background activities of certain political officials in Europe and the United States which started soon after the end of Istanbul meeting and were then picked up by the Western media. In the interval between two negotiations, both Western officials and media incessantly reiterated West’s unofficial positions up to the first day of Baghdad negotiations, which included their demand for total suspension of uranium enrichment by Iran, shutdown of Fordow nuclear facility, and delivery by Iran to the West of 150 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium. That political and propaganda line aimed to make the world’s public opinion believe that all roads lead to Baghdad and a final result will be achieved there. They meant to make Iran submit to West’s demands before Western countries accepted to come up with a plan to reduce sanctions against Iran, starting with the proposed sanctions against the country’s oil sector.

Creation of such political and propaganda atmosphere by Western countries caused the whole world to focus on Baghdad where they expected a final agreement would be reached. However, such political and propaganda efforts were sure to reduce to a minimum all chances of an agreement in Baghdad. Now, after the two sides have failed to achieve a clear agreement, Western media will claim that Baghdad negotiations failed to end in a clear result and Moscow talks are just a solution to prevent total failure of the process.

The second problem was related to Western officials on the side of the P5+1, who were present in Baghdad. The US representative in the group had no higher post in the US State Department than a third-ranking official of a department and was no more than an expert working under the supervision of the US undersecretary for the Middle East affairs. Other countries’ representatives were also no better than deputy ministers or directors general of certain departments of their respective countries’ foreign ministries. And Ms. Ashton was the main addressee of negotiations with Iran. Most political analysts maintain that a review of the level at which the P5+1 had taken part in Baghdad talks is enough to reveal that they had not come to make a decision. They had only come to fulfill the agenda of negotiations as set forth by Ms. Ashton. The situation of China and Russia’s representatives was different. These two countries are Iran's allies and their representatives had separate meetings with Mr. Jalili. As a result, the second problem with Baghdad talks, as pointed out by most analysts, was low level of Western representatives taking part in Baghdad negotiations.

Therefore, Baghdad talks did not turn out to be the final station and negotiating parties are looking forward to late June to engage in a new round of negotiations in Moscow.

Following Baghdad talks, many political analysts in Europe and the United States wrote something about the meeting. Most of them believe that negotiations in Baghdad were neither a failure, nor a success. They have pointed out that since both sides have agreed to continue negotiations in Moscow, at least, the path of negotiations has not been totally closed and this is, per se, a success. Some of those analysts maintain that Iran's real negotiating side is not the P5+1, but the United States government, and a termination to Iran's nuclear program case depends on direct talks between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the US government. This group of American and European analysts maintain that the United States has taken the P5+1 as hostage. Therefore, any move by the group requires direct confirmation by the United States and Ms. Ashton has no power to make independent decisions. Although European states as well as China and Russia have been hit by US sanctions and threats against Iran, they are more afraid of possible convergence between the United States and Israel’s views on Iran which may lead to a full-blown war in which all countries will suffer great losses. After Baghdad meeting wrapped up, an American analyst said the true nature of Iran's nuclear case is neither legal, nor technical, but its true nature is a political one. The analyst added that Obama Administration has taken the lead with regard to Iran's nuclear case and is dragging European countries behind it.

Due to their close ties to Iran, both Moscow and Beijing have been trying to help Iran's negotiations with the P5+1 to reach a conclusive result in order to find a way to terminate Western sanctions against Tehran and adjust Iran's political relations with the West. Both countries see every round of talks as an opportunity and hope that from Baghdad to Moscow, the two sides may achieve a minimum level of agreement.

Key Words: Baghdad, Moscow, P5+1, Iran, Western Media, Enriched Uranium, Low Level of Western Representatives, Qasemzadeh

Source: Ettelaat Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review

More By Abolqasem Qasemzadeh:

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*Reflections on Istanbul Meeting between Iran and P5+1:

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