Lower-Level Negotiations Between Iran, P5+1 Set for July

The US-led negotiations have offered Iran almost nothing, as military and economic aggression continue

Nuclear negotiators for Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to meet in Istanbul on July 24th, as technical experts for each side continue international negotiations that stalled in their third round last month in Moscow.

“The objective for the meeting of [Deputy EU foreign policy chief Helga] Schmid and [her Iranian counterpart Ali] Bagheri is to look further at how existing gaps in positions could be narrowed and how the process could be moved forward,” Michael Mann, an EU spokesman told Al-Monitor on Monday.

So far, the US-led P5+1 group has made overly strict demands on Iran while continuing aggressive military and economic postures. Iran, on the other hand, has offered a measured proposal which the West balked at and rejected.

In principle, the talks and the Western aggression against Iran are illegitimate. There is a consensus in the US intelligence community that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention to do so.

Still, the sanctions and then negotiations were imposed on Iran. But the so-called diplomacy with Iran has been “predicated on intimidation, illegal threats of military action, unilateral ‘crippling’ sanctions, sabotage, and extrajudicial killings of Iran’s brightest minds,” writes Reza Nasri at PBS Frontline’s Tehran Bureau. These postures have spoiled the chance to resolve this issue promptly and respectfully.

In Moscow, the Iranians offered a proposal that included agreeing to halt uranium enrichment to 20 percent, to more fully cooperation with international inspections, and to “operationalize” the Supreme Leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons. In exchange, Iran asked for easing economic sanctions and international recognition for Iran’s right to have a peaceful nuclear program under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The proposal from the P5+1 demanded that Iran halt 20 percent enrichment, ship out its 20 percent stockpile, and dismantle the highly fortified Fordo enrichment facility. In exchange, the US-led group offered Iran spare parts for its civilian air planes, a pathetic offer that they must have known would not result in much reciprocation.

After the failed talks in 2009 and 2010, wherein Obama ended up rejecting the very deal he demanded the Iranians accept, as Harvard professor Stephen Walt has written, the Iranian leadership “has good grounds for viewing Obama as inherently untrustworthy.” Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar has concurred, arguing that Iran has “ample reason” to believe, “ultimately the main Western interest is in regime change.”

New sanctions of an unprecedented scope are currently being added to the economic warfare already imposed on Iran and Washington continues to reinforce its military presence throughout the region surrounding Tehran in a clear move of intimidation. In addition, new cyber attacks have been launched against Iran and long-standing controversies, like Israel’s criminal assassinations of civilian scientists in Iran, have gone unaddressed. From Iran’s perspective, it’s clear the West isn’t interested in negotiating.

Since the peaceful nature of Iran’s current nuclear program is so widely accepted, the only real gripe people have is that Tehran is slightly too opaque on the issue (this, despite all declared enrichment sites being subject to international inspections and having 24-hour video surveillance). Any opaqueness Iran has demonstrated, along with its emphasis on being “nuclear capable,” is merely a defensive posture from a regime that fears US or Israeli aggression.

But there is a simple solution to this which would vastly decrease the geopolitical tensions in the region, yet is seen as out of the question by the US. If Israel, Iran’s main adversary and not a NPT signatory, agreed to dismantling its vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons and to a deal enforcing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East – a deal Iran has repeatedly proposed – Iran’s defensive posture would probably expire, along with the whole dispute about its nuclear program.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.