Three Scenarios for an Ambiguous Plan

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lavrov’s Nuclear Initiative for Iran and Washington’s Agreement May Have A Special Message

Mojtaba Najafi

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov revealed details of an initiative which has been formulated by his country to put an end to Iran’s nuclear standoff, though the initiative is riddled with vague points. Iranian officials, on the other hand have given no clear answer to Russia’s plan according to which Iran should answer questions posed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) based on a schedule. The initiative has considered a step by step process in which Iran will be rewarded with incentives for every convincing answer that it gives. Waiving sanctions or parts of them will be among the incentives. Questions will be sorted from the easiest to the most difficult. That is, Iran will have to address the easiest questions first before focusing on more difficult ones. There are, however, many ambiguities surrounding the plan:

- No information has been given out about nature of those questions and it is not clear on what basis their difficulty will be determined.

- Incentives have been considered for Iran’s convincing answers, but no mention has been made of 5+1’s possible reaction to unconvincing answers.

- Russians have said nothing about common grounds on the basis of which 5+1 will review Iran’s answers. Can Iran’s answers possibly convince the United States, European states, Russia and China at the same time?

- What is the difference between those questions and questions posed by IAEA? If Iran’s responses to previous questions have not been convincing and led to the Security Council sanctions, is it really necessary to repeat the same process?

- Will the new plan include “alleged studies” which are considered by Iranian officials to be just cooked up by Western countries without any solid proof?

Ambiguities surrounding Russia’s plans are so numerous that various scenarios can pop out of them.

1. In the first scenario, Russians are dissatisfied with unilateral sanctions imposed by the Western countries against Iran and are bent on taking the initiative in the nuclear case. Russians are trying to pose those questions to first blunt unilateral Western sanctions against Tehran and then steer the case over the long run. Russians are also trying to appease Iranian officials by deepening economic relations with Iran. Based on this scenario, Iran is in concert with Russia in this plan which can enter Western countries into a belated game.

2. According to the second scenario, the plan entails serious threats to Iran because it may have the United States’ green light and lead to further intensification of sanctions against Tehran. If Iran fails to give convincing answers to Western countries’ questions, international consensus will take shape to intensify sanctions and possibly adopt a new resolution against Iran. According to this scenario, the plan has been drawn up in cahoots with the Western countries to provide justification for tougher sanctions. Under current circumstances that the Middle East is swept by unrests in Arab countries and when Western states are occupied in Libya and Syria, Iran’s nuclear case has been largely marginalized. This plan can thaw the ice of the nuclear case by drawing renewed attention from the world. Supporters of this scenario point to a recent meeting between the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and Yukiya Amano, director general of International Atomic Energy Agency, after which IAEA issued a statement claiming that Iran has not complied with its nuclear commitments.

3. On the basis of the third scenario, the plan has been initiated by Russia without consulting either party to the nuclear crisis. Lavrov has frequently warned the West against imposition of new sanctions against Iran. Russians have prepared questions that have been posed before and Iran will probably give previous answers to them. As a result, the West will not be satisfied while Russia and China will take an intermediate position. Offering this initiative by Russia can only be a diplomatic show and renewed international attention to Iran’s nuclear case will be untoward consequence of that diplomatic show. It seems that speculation about credulity of these scenarios will be in vain as long as final viewpoint of Iranian officials is not known. The information that the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and government have about this initiative will be very important. If the Russians have already consulted the Iranian officials about the plan, the Iranian side will most probably cooperate and chances for the first scenario will rise. If, however, Iranian officials have been left out of the process and Washington has been the main addressee of detailed consultations, the second scenario will be more probable. Announcement of the plan in Washington and during the Russian foreign minister’s visit may have special connotations. An American delegation is to visit Russia in the near future to discuss the plan. Also, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has welcomed the Russian initiative. The welcome accorded to the initiative by the American side may have special messages embedded in it.

Source: Tehran Emrooz Daily
Translated By: Iran Review

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