Suspension for Suspension!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Abolqasem Qasemzadeh
Expert on International & Middle East Issues

The recent meeting between Iran's representatives and those of the P5+1 group of world powers – the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia, plus Germany – wrapped up in the Kazakh city of Almaty on Wednesday. The two parties to the negotiations have described them as productive, noting that the two sides’ views have come closer through Almaty talks.

Mr. (Saeed) Jalili, secretary of Iran Supreme National Security Council, told reporters at the end of the negotiations that “…the Islamic Republic of Iran had offered its overarching plan for the continuation of talks nine months ago in Moscow talks. The plan consisted of five topics for collaboration and had also set out principles and goals of the talks. It was decided that the plan should be studied (by the P5+1) before they give an answer to us. Yesterday, the opposite party, offered proposals in response to Iran's proposals which were in agreement [with Iran's proposals] and were close to some of the proposals that the Islamic Republic of Iran had already offered.” Both parties are, therefore, determined to make sure that proposals are balanced and simultaneously offered in order to reach a final agreement. Jalili believed that the new proposals by the P5+1 group were positive and the group was getting closer to Iran's viewpoints, though there is still a long way to go before reaching the optimal point.

On the other hand, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has expressed satisfaction over the positive attitude of the Iranian side, nothing that the two negotiating parties should await for the experts to take the next steps. She added that the P5+1 and Iran had drawn up a common statement and decided that the Iranian and Western experts should meet in Istanbul on March 18 before Iran and the P5+1 meet again in Almaty on April 5 and 6, 2013. There are certain facts about negotiations in Almaty which make them different from negotiations in the past:

1. Both sides were satisfied with two-day talks and their proposals were more in agreement in a bid to open a new avenue toward achievement of a final agreement.

2. The “threatening rhetoric” came under fire from both sides as they urged that such rhetoric should be given up in favor of confidence building. They noted that the threatening rhetoric from either side would not solve any problem and modification of the media propaganda was needed to make way for confidence building.

3. The fact that the two parties agreed to meet again in 40 days was a major differential point compared to past talks. It was a telltale sign showing that their viewpoints have come closer. In the meantime, the Iranian and Western experts are expected to discuss and review the agenda for the next round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 which are scheduled for April 5 and 6, 2013 in Almaty. This time, there was no difference between the two parties about the location of the forthcoming negotiations.

The spokesperson for the P5+1 group took part in a press conference following the negotiations. When asked about abrogation of unilateral sanctions against Iran, the spokesperson noted that sanctions are so intricate and intertwined that it would take a lot of time before they could be removed. Therefore, it has been decided that once agreement is reached on both sides’ proposals, they can then focus on a mechanism to start lifting anti-Iran sanctions. As a result, suspension of sanctions will take place in stages and will be reciprocated by steps which will be taken by Iran; that is, a mechanism of suspension for suspension. The spokesperson also noted that both sides have offered proposals in various fields which are largely in agreement. The first round of talks in Almaty has come to an end with both negotiating parties describing it as successful and positive. Although no clear information has been so far revealed about the content of the proposals, Iran has based its proposals on the package it had already offered the P5+1 group during previous round of talks in Moscow. The Western side has also proposed suspension of sanctions on Iran's export of crude oil and petrochemicals and selling oil in return for gold. Suspension of other sanctions will follow in later stages. It seems that if the two sides’ experts reach an agreement, the next round of Iran's talks with the P5+1 in Almaty on April 5 and 6 will be concerned with step by step suspension of other unilateral sanctions against Iran. During this round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, the unfriendly atmosphere which governed previous talks was modified which caused both sides to have more hope in achieving a mutually acceptable solution.

At present, both sides attach high significance to building confidence through negotiations. They have also put the denouncement of “threatening rhetoric” and mending their way from confrontation to interaction on their agenda. In contrast to their past concerned expressions, this time, both chief nuclear negotiators, Saeed Jalili and Catherine Ashton, appeared before the press with happy and hopeful faces. During their press conferences, they put emphasis on the need to hold the expert meeting in order to achieve a working agenda which would be acceptable for both sides as they are supposed to meet again in 45 days.

In reality, Iran's nuclear dossier is neither a legal case, nor a technical one. It is, in fact, a politicized case in which the hope for an agreement will be high if the general course of the case and the general direction of the policy adopted by the United States and its European allies toward Iran is changed from confrontation to interaction. The negotiations in Almaty have been just a beginning for such a course and both sides have indicated their readiness to make that change.

Key Words: Iran, P5+1, Nuclear Talks, Almaty, Jalili, Ashton, Sanctions, Qasemzadeh

Source: Ettelaat Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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