News / Middle East

Hopes for Change at Upcoming Iran Talks

A Hope for Something Different at Upcoming Iran Talksi
October 14, 2013 7:23 AM
Iranian negotiators will start meeting with the United Nations contact group in Geneva on Tuesday to see whether Tehran's change of government will help break the long deadlock over its nuclear program. Iran is enduring crippling economic sanctions as the U.N. presses for guarantees that it will not build a nuclear weapon, which Iran’s leaders say they do not want to do.
Hopes for Something Different at Upcoming Iran Talks
Al Pessin
Iranian negotiators will start meeting with the United Nations contact group in Geneva on Tuesday to see whether Tehran's change of government will help break the long deadlock over its nuclear program.  Iran is enduring crippling economic sanctions as the U.N. presses for guarantees that it will not build a nuclear weapon, which Iran’s leaders say they do not want to do.
A rainy December day three years ago was the last time Iranian and international negotiators met in Geneva to talk about Iran's nuclear program. Those talks, like so many others, did not produce the compromises needed to reassure the United Nations about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Recent Developments:

  • January:  IAEA confirms Iran is refining uranium to 20% fissile purity.
  • February:  UN inspectors end talks in Tehran without inspecting disputed military site at Parchin.
  • April:  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows Iran will not surrender its nuclear rights.
  • May:  UN inspectors report they found find traces significantly upgraded uranium at an Iranian site.
  • July:  EU begins total ban on Iranian oil imports, US expands sanctions.
  • September:  IAEA demands access to Parchin, Iran calls EU sanctions "irresponsible."
  • December:  IAEA says it makes progress in talks with Iran. US imposes more sanctions.

  • January:  Iran says it will speed up nuclear fuel work.
  • February: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejects direct nuclear talks with the U.S. Iran and world powers meet, agree to more talks.
  • May: IAEA says Iran has expanded nuclear activity.
  • September: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will not seek weapons of mass destruction. Iran and world powers agree to resume nuclear talks.
  • October: Iran holds talks with five permanent members of U.N. Security Council and Germany, more talks are set for November.
  • November: Iran holds another round of talks with the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany
However, a lot has changed since then. In June, Iranians unexpectedly elected moderate Hassan Rouhani as president.  His statements, especially at the United Nations General Assembly last month, offer new hope for progress, feels Iran expert Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“I think Iran will come forward with something new.  I doubt that it will be enough to make a big breakthrough, but maybe some small progress will be possible.  And then additional meetings might create the possibility for more progress,” said Fitzpatrick.
However, after President Rouhani's foreign minister met with the U.N. contact group and agreed to further talks in Geneva - and after Rouhani spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama over the phone - the Iranian leader encountered criticism back home for moving too fast.
Meanwhile, President Obama had to appeal to the U.S. Congress not to add more sanctions against Iran just as the new diplomatic effort is getting started.
“Rouhani has got a real balancing act.  He has to be able to placate his hardliners - just as President Obama has a lot of hardliners in the Congress who don’t want to provide sanctions relief, in fact want to add on more sanctions. So, finding the right balance is going to be very difficult,” explained Fitzpatrick.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not convinced Iran’s new leaders have found that balance.  Clinton, who was in office during several rounds of inconclusive Iran talks, commented on the upcoming talks while speaking at London’s Chatham House.
“In Geneva next week, I will be most interested in hearing if the Iranians are putting any meat on the bones of their hope that there can be a negotiation that leads to a resolution that is satisfying to them and acceptable to us.  And I just think we don’t have any way of knowing that yet,” said Clinton.
Experts say the only thing they’re confident about, going into Geneva, is that it will be a long process, burdened by history, mistrust and conflicting goals. 
While they hope for progress, they don’t expect any breakthroughs.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mladen Andrijasevic from: Be'er Sheva, Israel
October 14, 2013 2:26 PM
How is it that that the rest of the world does not see what Israel sees? How come they do not see that they too will be the target of a nuclear-armed Iran? How come the Europeans, especially the Brits, seem to have forgotten their own history of appeasement and where it brought them to in the 1930s? Why don’t Americans care that their president is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood? Why don’t American Jews care that their president supports the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are so many people indifferent to the absurd appeasement policies of their governments, policies which will impact their lives… and worse, get them killed?

The answer, of course, is in what Churchill called the confirmed unteachability of mankind. “Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong “

Israel is different. Israel has been the front line on the bloody borders of Islam, both Sunni and Shi'a, in the clash of civilizations, for some time now. Most Israelis have not read Samuel Huntington, Bernard Lewis, nor Winston Churchill. Their insight is purely empirical. But it makes them see where others are blind.

That is why Israel’s message to the world is - we are not going to get killed because of your stupidity and indifference. We will act. We have no other choice except the choice to defend ourselves or be incinerated.

by: hegesias
October 14, 2013 1:14 PM
Gee, I wonder how these "negotiations" will change the US? Will it stop its campiagn of international military and economic terrorism? Will it give up its own nukes? Will it acknowledge Israel's genocidal apartheid? Will it stop drone terrorizing the innocent civilians of half a dozen countries against any and all humanitarian and international laws? Will it stop lying about other countries' weapons and use thereof to use as excuses for wars?

Didn't think so.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
October 14, 2013 11:43 AM
And the whole issue lies in the breakthrough. There is no soft pedaling in the matter. It's either Iran wants a deal or no deal. Iran must make up its mind what to give up and play its card once - on the table. The longer it takes to get to appreciable levels, the worse off for Iran. It should not take Obama's weakness for international communities lack of purpose. The bottom line is Iran must not produce nuclear weapons, and anything not showing how prepared Iran is to drop the nuclear program will be counter productive. It's not a time for playing pranks or bluffing. This is time for business - serious business at that. For the time past has been enough for Iran to produce any nuclear weapon and enrich uranium to any grade, so any further time wasting will see Iran simply positioning its nuclear missile to point at its enemies. Therefore no more time buying should be allowed. Good enough all options are still on the negotiating table, though to rely on USA to take an action if the need arises is doubtful - another obstacle.

by: Steve Thompson from: Maine, USA
October 14, 2013 10:11 AM
The complicating factor in dealing with Iran's nuclear program is the involvement of China. As shown in this article, over the past decade, China has supplied the precursors necessary for Iran to develop its nuclear-tipped missile program:

China repeatedly maintains that it is opposed to unilateral sanctions against Iran because it has economic ties to the country, mainly in the development of Iran's massive natural gas infrastructure.

by: Kafantaris from: Warren, Ohio, USA
October 14, 2013 8:25 AM
We can't stop a country from learning nuclear physics, or dispense permision to do so like the Pope dispensed indulgences in Martin Luther's time.
This doesn't mean, however, that we should abandon all efforts to convince rogue nations to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Indeed, if we accept the premise that a country's might in today's world is gauged by its economic strength, then monitored and open development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes should be allowed to proceed. Iran has said in the past that it wants to make electricity with the nuclear material it has been producing. It should be allowed to do so, and also use the nuclear power on site for electrolysis to make hydrogen -- which can be used for petroleum production, chemicals, and as raw fuel for transportation since hydrogen has a fast burning speed, high octane, and poses no danger to ozone.

As for the images of Hindenburg etched in our minds, hydrogen actually has wider flammability limit in air than either natural gas or gasoline.
True, nuclear plants are unpopular and rightfully so. Yet we should acknowledge that they offer us the best means to date to make the volume of hydrogen we need to move forward with the inevitable hydrogen economy. Since Iran might have fewer regulatory delays, it might even be able to get started on nuclear hydrogen production faster and get a leg-up on the market.

The UN should, therefore, encourage the regulated peaceful use of nuclear energy and provide the framework to implement it it openly and safely -- with all necessary redundancy for monitoring and compliance. Moreover, Iran should not object to the overbearing scrutiny, not only because it is needed to alleviate fears, but also because it is needed to enhance collaboration for economic growth -- again, the only yardstick left to measure strength in today's world.

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