West’s Policy of Delay in Nuclear Talks with Iran

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ebrahim Mottaqi
Faculty Member, University of Tehran

Various comments have been given on the so-called Iran's nine-step plan for the continuation of nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany). Iranian officials, however, have rejected the possibility of considering a new plan which may cause Iran's nuclear rights to be overlooked in any possible negotiations. As the Iranian media were focusing on this issue, officials from the United States and other member states of the P5+1 laid renewed stress on the necessity for Iran to observe the resolutions so far passed on its nuclear energy program by the United Nations Security Council. When it comes to Iran's nuclear energy program, the Western countries believe that any form of uranium stockpiling or continuation of uranium enrichment in the Islamic Republic will contravene the Security Council resolutions. Naturally, such an attitude on the part of the P5+1 has practically stymied the progress of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, not to mention that the negotiations have so far borne no fruit for either side.

Although Western analysts have believed all through this process that Iran is employing a policy of postponement and delay, the reality on the ground proves that such an approach is actually being used by representative of the United States and other European countries. In a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal on October 5, 2012, the US Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, emphasized that the nuclear diplomacy of the incumbent US President Barack Obama cannot guarantee Washington’s strategic interests in the long run. Due to such differing approaches, the executive power in the United States has been practically unable to make an effective decision with regard to its nuclear diplomacy toward Iran.

This trend clearly proves that the Western world has been so far following an unbalanced nuclear diplomacy toward Iran. The major signs of that lack of balance are evident in diplomatic pressures, security threats, as well as economic restrictions that have been imposed on political and social structures of Iran. The year 2011 should be viewed in the light of endless signs of the West’s threat diplomacy against Iran. On the one hand, the Security Council influenced by the West’s approach toward Iran adopted Resolution 1929 to impose crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic by cutting Iran's economic ties to the rest of the world. On the other hand, the Western media did their best to mirror the West’s threatening policy as well as its full-blown war of nerves against Iran. During that period, Iran kept insisting on the necessity of following diplomatic negotiations within the framework of the nuclear package proposed by Tehran in Moscow talks. The package can be considered among major indices of Iran's nuclear diplomacy in relation to the P5+1 group.

1. Iran pursues confidence building with the P5+1 group in its nuclear diplomacy

Iran's plans can be considered a symbol of an institutional and organized effort to keep up the nuclear negotiations. However, this trend has been overshadowed by the forthcoming presidential elections in the United States. The main goals of Iran are to build confidence with the world and create multilateral transparency over its nuclear energy program. Cooperation with Iran's nuclear policy is among important requirements of crisis management. Any cooperative process should be assessed for its strategic consequences. Unilateral cooperation has never been desirable in global politics or economics. Therefore, due to strategic necessities, Iran should be able to take advantage of its “balanced step by step policy” in its nuclear diplomacy.

Although the Western world has mostly ignored Iran's nuclear right and also overlooked the nuclear package proposed by Tehran, Iran has continued to follow the same confidence building model in order to show the realities about its nuclear activities to the world. Iran accepted to set the nuclear package aside and continue its diplomacy in line with nuclear negotiations. Nuclear negotiations have been so far used as a means by the Western countries to assert their views. As a result, such important issues as putting an end to anti-Iran sanctions and stopping pressure diplomacy against Iran have been practically taken off the agenda.

Although Iran still follows a policy based on confidence building, the Western countries are trying to pursue the same old model which is based on the policy of threat, delay, and incrimination. The real tragedy of the West’s propaganda hype became more evident when Meir Dagan, former head of the Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad; Michael Mullen, the former US armed forces chief of staff; Robert Gates, the former US secretary of defense; and Richard Haass, who heads the US Council on Foreign Relations, emphasized that Iran has remained committed to the nuclear Safeguards as well as the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its nuclear activities. Therefore, Iran's nuclear energy program poses no threat to global peace.

A recent interview by the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi with the German Der Spiegel daily can be considered another sign of Iran's insistence on its goodwill and confidence building policy. Salehi has emphasized that if Western countries guaranteed delivery of necessary 20-percent enriched uranium to Iran to be used by Tehran Research Reactor, then Iran would make no effort to enrich uranium to any level above 5 percent. This approach clearly proves that Iran is planning to follow the policy of mutual confidence building as a necessary means of keeping the nuclear talks going.

As said before, Iran's approach to its nuclear activities is based on building confidence with other parties. Iran's nuclear diplomacy has always put emphasis on such concepts as transparency and confidence building. Every one of those concepts entails certain legal liabilities for Iran. In return for this process, the Islamic Republic has continuously put emphasis on the necessity of restoring the rights of the Iranian nation in the field of nuclear energy. This process has led to continued uranium enrichment in the country. On the other hand, Iran has been able to transfer necessary know-how to meet the industrial needs of the country including to feed Tehran Research Reactor and the country’s sole nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

Strategic requirements call for Iran's nuclear diplomacy to be based on meeting the necessary needs which every Iranian citizen faces in their daily activities. Although crippling sanctions will cause restrictions for Iranian government as well as nuclear institutions, their impact on the social and economic life of Iranian citizens deserves more attention. Therefore, mechanisms which may help to reduce sanctions against Iran should be the centerpiece of any future negotiations. Security issues cannot be pursued by limiting the capacities of a country through upstream-downstream models. This model has never been helpful to promotion of international peace.

The security approaches taken by Iran, the United States, and European countries as representatives of the Western world, in addition to Russia and China require that the nuclear diplomacy be focused on issues which are accepted by all countries. The requirements of a regional and international balance model necessitate that realities related to Iran's peaceful nuclear activities be carefully taken into consideration. Continuation of the threat policy by putting forth issues that are threatening by nature or are prelude to threat will inevitably make Iran's nuclear policy more distrustful toward member states of group P5+1.

It should be noted that Iran's nuclear diplomacy is not compatible with the approach taken to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear issue by the American statesmen. Part of the rhetoric used by Gary Samore, who represented the US administration in nuclear talks with Iran, clearly proved that the Americans are using a new line of political literature in order to ignore Iran's nuclear rights. The gradual and step by step approach adopted by the P5+1 group is actually aimed at helping the group’s members to deny Iran's right to continue its nuclear activities for the production of 20-percent enriched uranium, or to force Tehran shut down its nuclear facility at Fordow. An article published by the US-based New York Times on April 16, 2012, alluded to necessity of setting preconditions for the resumption of nuclear negotiations with Iran. There are different views about the quality of Iran's cooperation with international nuclear bodies and the P5+1 group. Some analysts and senior executive officials of European countries and the United States are optimistic about the final result of the nuclear talks. Others feel that Iran has no respect for the approach adopted by the P5+1 group and international bodies in its nuclear negotiations. In reality, however, any premature analysis on security matters would be a risky undertaking. The previous rounds of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 in the Turkish port city of Istanbul and Iraq’s capital city, Baghdad, were just part of the process with which Iran, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany, the European Union, and International Atomic Energy Agency have been engaged for the past nine years. Throughout that process, Iran has been trying to rely on confidence building measures. The reaction that Tehran showed to allegations about presence of highly enriched uranium at Fordow nuclear site clearly reveals Iran's true attitude and intent.

2. The policy of delay and continued incrimination as part of the P5+1 group’s nuclear diplomacy

Although Iran has relied on mutual confidence building policy in relation to its nuclear activities, the Western countries have chosen a totally different model in their interactions with Iran; a model which is primarily based on pressure diplomacy. The first signs of pressure diplomacy followed by the Western countries in the face of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities go back to 2003. At that time, IAEA started its first organized efforts aimed at restricting Iran and countering political, technical and security processes followed by Iran.

So far, the Western countries have put the highest emphasis on pressure diplomacy instead of trying to take advantage of mutual confidence building. In line with the West’s pressure diplomacy against Iran, the Director General of IAEA Yukiya Amano, as well as some member states of the IAEA Board of Governors have done their best on behalf of international bodies to use a combination of diplomatic pressure and security threat against Iran. Such a process cannot give birth to desirable results for the peaceful resolution of Iran nuclear case. The tactic used by the Western world is a combination of diplomatic pressure, normative temptation, institutional encouragement, media threats and military maneuvering. Each and every one of these components is part of the security threat scheme used by the United States and the Western world in relation to Iran. This is why some analysts and experts on security issues related to Iran actually believe that in response to Iran's model which is based on cooperation and confidence building, the Western world has chosen to apply a model of escalating diplomatic pressure as well as increasing security threat.


Iran's nuclear diplomacy has been the main pivot of the Islamic Republic’s security policy since 2003. Following termination of the Cold War, neoconservative political and security groups in the United States have been trying to introduce a new concept into the common literature of international relations and politics in the form of “nuclear proliferation.” This concept has been actually used as a means to depict countries like Iran as the new symbol of security threats against the United States, Israel, and European countries. This approach has been put forward and adopted by groups which have been attempting to establish and expand the US hegemony. These people have been considering any process which may lead to generation of more power for regional countries as a symbol of security threat to the United States. From the viewpoint of Western countries, negotiations are just another step of their overall attempt to achieve their strategic goals. In the first step, that is, during Istanbul 2 negotiations, the member states of the P5+1 group went for a “cooperation diplomacy.” In the second step, that is, in Iran talks, they opted to discuss general issues with regard to Iran. Perhaps, the most prominent feature of the second round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group was “the delay diplomacy.” The model adopted by the Western countries was so illogical that Stephan Walt called it a sign that the United States and the Western world in general were not serious in their talks with Iran. His article was published on the Foreign Policy website and was based on this question: “Is the Western world serious about negotiations with Iran?” Iran’s experience shows that they are taking advantage of delay diplomacy and this is why Iran negotiations did not lead to any specific conclusion. Iran and the P5+1 group just agreed to continue negotiations in Istanbul. These negotiations have clearly revealed the analytical gap between the two sides. This is why the cooperation diplomacy was replaced by delay diplomacy in the second step of the negotiations followed by suspension diplomacy in the third step of those negotiations.

Key Words: Iran and the P5+1, Delay Diplomacy, Suspension Diplomacy, Security Threats, Diplomatic Pressure, Sanctions, UNSC, IAEA, Confidence Building Measures, Mottaqi

Source: Khorasan Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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