New Iranian Nuclear Talks
by Stephen Lendman
On October 15, new P5 + 1 talks began. Five permanent Security Council members plus Germany are meeting in Geneva with Iran.
Previous rounds failed. Will this time be different? Israel wants no letup in sanctions. It wants lots more besides. More on that below.
AIPAC lobbies intensively for whatever Israel wants. It exerts enormous influence in Washington.
An October 14, State Department briefing said the following:
"We are encouraged that President Rouhani has received a mandate from the Iranian people to pursue a more moderate course."
"We are also encouraged that President Rouhani recently reiterated that Iran will never develop a nuclear weapon."
Obama "believes we should test those assertions, which is part of what we'll be doing over the coming days."
"Foreign Minister Zarif has said he is coming with a detailed proposal that elaborates on the thoughtful presentation he made to the P5+1 foreign ministers in New York, and we are ready to hear it, to listen to it, and to go to work, if it is substantive and concrete."
"At the same time, we go into these meetings clear-eyed. No one is naive about the challenges we face in pursuing this diplomatic path."
"(W)e seek an agreement that ultimately resolves all of the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program."
"(W)hile we negotiate we will keep up the economic pressure on Iran."
"(W)e are going to make judgments based on the actions of the Iranian Government."
"We are prepared to do what it takes to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
Iran threatens no one. It's nuclear program is peaceful. Annual US intelligence reports say so.
It's nuclear program is the most heavily monitored one globally. No evidence suggests a military component.
None shows non-compliance with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty provisions.
In New York, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said the following:
"Iran's nuclear program (and) that of all other countries must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes."
"I declare here, openly and unambiguously, that, notwithstanding the positions of others, this has been, and will always be, the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran."
"Nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions."
"Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran's peaceful nuclear program."
"Every nation is entitled to pursue peaceful nuclear development. No country of combination thereof has the right to deny them."
Iran's "prepared to engage immediately in time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency."
"Iran seeks constructive engagement with other countries based on mutual respect and common interest, and within the same framework does not seek to increase tensions with the United States" or any other country.
Earlier Rohani said Iran won't abandon its peaceful nuclear program. He "dismisse(d) nuclear suspension as impossible."
It'll continue legitimately on his watch. On June 17, he said:
"The era of suspension is gone, and now we are in such special conditions that I do believe we have abundant ways to build (each other's) confidence."
"In 2005, we came to a final agreement in talks with (French President) Mr. Jacque Chirac on how to build international confidence in Iran's enrichment activities and this agreement could be the final solution."
"The Germans acquiesced in the agreement, but Britain, under the US pressure, refrained from cooperation and the job was left unfinished."
The problem with Iran's nuclear program is America, not Tehran. Obama threatens world peace. He's more belligerent than Bush.
Iran wants normalized relations. It wants lawless sanctions removed. It won't be easy achieving either goal. They've been denied for nearly 35 years. Washington and Israel bear full responsibility.
At issue is their longstanding hardline policy. Both countries want regime change. Israel wants a regional rival removed.
Washington wants pro-Western puppet governance replacing sovereign Iranian independence.
Iran's nuclear program is red herring cover for what both countries want. If it didn't exist, another pretext would be found.
Will this negotiating round be different from previous ones? Iran can't prove a negative. Washington has all the proving to do.
Its longstanding intentions are pernicious. They're malevolent. Until Rohani's June election, extreme hostility persisted. Thereafter, rhetoric alone softened.
Whether policy changes follow remains to be seen. Changing Washington's behavior seems doubtful. Another imperial trophy is sought.
America wants unchallenged regional dominance. Hardline options are employed to achieve it. Belligerence may be delayed. It's not off the table.
Obama currently wages multiple direct and proxy wars. Americans want them ended. They deplore new ones.
They've made their feelings well known. They got Congress to balk at attacking Syria. War very much remains an option. It's delayed. It's not deterred.
Longstanding US regional policy remains firm. Tactics and timing alone changed. Goals are unchanged.
Iran's justifiably wary about what's coming. Ahead of Geneva talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said:
"Our basis in the negotiations is not giving and taking concessions." He seeks a win-win solution. He wants what may be impossible to achieve.
Specific proposals will be presented. According to an unnamed source, they're rational and pragmatic. Without elaboration, Zarif said:
"I will put forward a new plan to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities during the next round of talks with the Group 5+1."
He heads Iran's delegation. Talks will continue through Wednesday. Based on progress, extending them may follow.
Accompanying Zarif are:
• Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht Ravanchi;
• Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyed Abbas Araqchi;
• Foreign Ministry Director-General for the Economic and Specialized International Affairs Hamid Ba'eedinejad;
• Foreign Ministry Legal Advisor Davoud Mohammadnia; and
• Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) representative Davoud Mohammadnia.
Iran wants goal-oriented talks. On Sunday, Zarif said:
"We will try to achieve results in the negotiations as soon as possible and we will not allow negotiations to turn into a goal itself."
He'll present Iran's proposed framework. His colleagues will conduct negotiations. If necessary, he'll join them. He remains hopeful, saying:
"If the other side shows good will, we will possibly need another meeting at the level of ministers to agree on the details and start of their implementation."
Iran's challenge is formidable. Its previous responsible proposals were rebuffed. Congressional hardliners remain firm.
Ten Republican and Democrat lawmakers urged Obama to stiffen sanctions. They want all nuclear enrichment halted. They want that and more.
Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator Robert Menendez (D. NJ) said:
"Iran's first confidence-building action should be immediate suspension of all enrichment activity."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton heads P5 + 1 delegates. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman heads US negotiators.
She's been extremely hostile to Iran so far. She's noncommittal on what Washington will propose or accept.
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister/chief negotiator Sergei Ryabkov expressed hope, saying:
"We are encouraged by what we have heard from the Iranians - of course not without problems."
"But as far as I understand, their foreign minister and the team really are of a mood to try to begin for some progress."
"We keep our fingers crossed," he added. "We will work for it."
On Monday, Israel convened a special security cabinet meeting. It did so ahead of Tuesday's P5 + 1 talks.
It released a statement saying:
"Today, another round of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran will begin in Geneva."
"These negotiations begin at a time when the Iranian regime is under great pressure because of the sanctions and is desperately trying to have them removed."
"Sanctions must not be eased when they are so close to achieving their intended purpose."
This is an "opportune moment" to resolve things.
"However, this opportunity can be realized only if the international community continues to put pressure on Iran and does not ease the sanctions prematurely."
"It would be an historic mistake not to take full advantage of the sanctions, by making concessions before ensuring the dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons program."
Israel remains hardline. It's nuclear armed and dangerous. It refuses to discuss its longstanding capability. It maintains a formidable arsenal. Its missiles can strike long range.
It wants all Iranian nuclear enrichment ceased. It wants existing stockpiles eliminated internally.
It wants heavily protected underground facilities dismantled. It wants heavy water Arak reactor construction halted.
Its demands are over-the-top. Netanyahu continues to lie, saying:
"Iran is developing intercontinental missiles that can hold nuclear warheads; they can reach anywhere in the Middle East, Europe, the US and other parts of the world."
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein accused Rohani of "prepar(ing) a honey trap."
Shimon Peres warned that "a nuclear Iran is a danger to the whole world and destabilizes the region."
Israel is the sole Middle East power holding that distinction. It bears repeating. Iran threatens no one.
It's nuclear program is peaceful. No evidence suggests otherwise. Washington, other Western states and Israel know it. Their hollow accusations claim otherwise.
They persist. They're unrelenting. Breakthrough hopes this time may again fail.
America and Israel remain the region's only threats. Iran's between a rock and hard place. Don't expect its best efforts to change things.
A Final Comment
On October 15, Reuters headlined "Iran presents PowerPoint proposal at Geneva nuclear talks: EU."
Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann gave no details. He said there's a sense of "cautious optimism."
Iran's proposal is titled "Closing an unnecessary crisis, opening new horizons."
According to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi:
"The six world powers were surprised by the seriousness of our proposal. We agreed not to share details of it with the press."
An unnamed senior US official said "(n)o one should expect a breakthrough overnight." What follows depends on "what Iran puts on the table."
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity." http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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