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The Latest Assessment of the Circumstances of Iran-P5+1 Nuclear Negotiations

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mahdi Mohammadi
Expert on Strategic Issues

An examination of Catherine Ashton’s behavioral procedure and also observation of US officials’ statements and positions after Moscow negotiations demonstrate that the P5+1 is moving toward “loose negotiations” with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The second round of nuclear talks in Istanbul was started very swiftly and resulted in the exchange of written proposals between the two parties in Baghdad and Moscow.

In Istanbul talks it was clear that the Americans were pursuing intense and ongoing negotiations with short-term intervals. On the one hand they wanted to achieve satisfactory results and on the other hand they did not want the course of negotiations to be derailed. The Americans sought to achieve concrete and immediate results in Baghdad negotiations for the time being or as the US government commonly puts it, to force Iran to take tangible steps halting its nuclear program. During the interval between Baghdad and Moscow nuclear talks and due to the prospects of placing embargo on Iran's oil and Central Bank, the US expected to meet a more flexible Iran in Moscow; however, in the final round of nuclear talks the American side realized that applying the notion of pure pressure to force a country like Iran into complying with their objectives is not only ineffective but also nonsensical and stupid. The exhaustion of the Western nuclear negotiators in Moscow, when they found that Iran not only has not changed its stance since Baghdad talks, but also firmly demands the West to change its historical redlines regarding Iran's Uranium Enrichment Program, will never be forgotten by the author of this article. These questions ware reverberating in the Golden Ring Hotel’s atmosphere that when the sanctions imposed upon Iran will finally show their effects on this country, and whether Iran basically considers the threats from the West or not. Apparently, the outcome of Moscow talks was the decision by the two parties to buy time without announcing the failure of negotiations and continue the talks at a lower ranking level to find the minimum common points that would allow continuation of the negotiations.

But the truth of the story was not as thus related. In point of fact, the Americans ascertained that first, there are deep rifts between the two sides’ attitudes and demands; second, mending these rifts and pushing the negotiations forward is impossible unless one of the sides alter and balance its stance basically and incorporate the other party’s views into its own proposal; and third the party that is going to do this task will not be Iran since it has already offered the most possible flexibilities on its own side in the form of the framework whose full text was openly published and has prepared a list of mutually agreed measures, a list whose revision is almost unfeasible.

This is the main reason for as the information demonstrate and the West also has asserted, it has been around two months that the P5+1 has focused on rewriting Baghdad talks’ proposal. Yet, nobody knows about the outcome of this revision and whether the US will succeed to extricate itself from the decade-long stalemate caused by “rejecting uranium enrichment in Iran” or not. Whatever the result of the West would be in this regard, one should take this fact into consideration that the process of negotiations from the second round of talks in Istanbul to the Moscow nuclear talks entailed lessons which would act as irreplaceable assumptions for any possible negotiation in future.

1. Now, the US is aware of what concessions Iran is ready to make and what it wants to be offered in return. This means that Iran has fully clarified the possibility of a negotiated solution for a problem which is deliberately presented by many countries including Britain, Israel and Saudi Arabia as insurmountable. With regards to Iran's proposal in the Moscow nuclear talks, no one can accuse Iran of refusing to reach an agreement and simply seeking to buy time. Even the Zionists are avoiding the use of such literature, rather their argument for the most part is that in any possible agreement in future negotiations the looser will be P5+1, not Iran.

2. Apparently, now it is clear for all that the only actor who seriously thwarts all attempts to achieve any success in the negotiations is Israel. The Zionists made every effort to prevent Iran and the P5+1 from entering into negotiation, and when the talks began they tried bring it to an end in the very first round. When Tel Aviv figured out that the two parties are determined to continue the negotiations, started to create obstacles for the Iranian negotiating team from inside the country and dissuade them continuing the talks, and sought this objective through intensifying the pressure upon the United States and Europe for slapping further sanctions on Iran. However, soon they understood that Iran capable enough to manage its internal atmosphere, and thus attempted to prevent increasing proximity between the stances of both sides at any price possible and particularly tried to turn any progress in negotiations into an electoral menace to Obama administration. Such attempts have been made in public and continue to happen. When the Israelis talk about attacking Iran, in fact they are pondering over launching an attack on Iran and P5+1 negotiating table – over which they know some significant events are going to occur sooner or later – not an attack against Natanz and Fordo that neither can they manage to launch it nor such an attack, once launched will basically solve their problem. Therefore, it seems that all the actors will find themselves forced to keep away from Zionist attitude in any serious negotiation in future and this fact is not only a result of Iranian’s sagacity but also the consequence of imprudence of certain lunatics who are now sitting in Tel Aviv and assuming that they are the principal actors and the final decision makers who decide about the course of events and the fate of developments.

3. The third issue to be considered is that the Western side has figured out that strategy of pressure in the form of imposing sanctions or any other method is not capable to alter Iran's strategic calculations. Basically Iran does not seek to recalculate its national security strategy and its interpretation of national, regional, and international realities and developments does not necessitate any shift in the calculations. It is a fact that Iran is now under pressure, but this pressure is perceived as prelude to a great triumph and thus bearing it is much easier than what the West assumes. In reality, it is too unlikely that the Americans will be able to extricate themselves from the imposed embargo against Iran, which is definitely destructive for any possible advancement in the negotiation; however, in strategic terms it has been clarified that without lifting the sanctions, no progress will be made.

4. As the fourth point, one should take note of is that all the sides now acknowledge that the resistance of P5+1 against the issues not related to Iran's nuclear case has not been realistic and actually Iran's nuclear case can be precisely examined only when it is perceived in the framework of a regional strategic and security equation. The recent events in Syria have caused everyone to accept this attitude without qualifications and negotiations, an attitude which was supported by Iran from the very beginning. Syria’s case undoubtedly was triggered and gathered momentum with the objective of putting Iran under geo-strategic pressure so that it restrain and constrain itself in strategic competition and rivalry with the United States. Now with the transformation of the situation in Syria and the increase in the possibility of Assad’s survival, it is Iran that expects the US to lower its demands. It is true that Iran's nuclear issue is a pillar of regional security equation; however, this equation has other pillars that should be put on the table and be examined at the same time and as a whole.

5. In Iran, the last round of nuclear talks has been interpreted as a part of Obama’s electoral strategy, and it is the most realistic interpretation. In fact, Obama started the second round of nuclear negotiations in Istanbul on the assumption that entering into these negotiations would enable him to keep the atmosphere of tensions with Iran calm until November. And now, it seems that under the pressure of Iran's negotiation logic he has understood that he should alleviate the severity and intensity of negotiations, since without making a major concession to Iran, no advancement will occur in the nuclear talks. Additionally making such a concession before November will cost Obama a major electoral risk. Now the most important issue is whether it works well for Obama to place the negotiations high on his agenda before the presidential election or not, and if he wins the election – irrespective of electoral concerns – how will he modify his approach towards the issue of Iran's nuclear program? This question is of paramount importance but still there are not sufficient evidences to provide it with a convincing response.

Key Words: Iran-P5+1, Nuclear Negotiations, Strategic Calculations, Obama’s Electoral Strategy, Israel Threats, Moscow Nuclear Talks, Sanctions, Mohammadi

More By Mahdi Mohammadi:

*Why Iran Should Both Negotiate and Suffer from Sanctions?: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Why-Iran-Should-Both-Negotiate-and-Suffer-from-Sanctions-.htm

*Syria’s Developments and Iran's National Security Equation: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Syria-s-Developments-and-Iran-s-National-Security-Equation.htm

*Some Basic Facts about Negotiations in Moscow: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Some_Basic_Facts_about_Negotiations_in_Moscow.htm

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