Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

No Deal Yet Over Iran’s Nuclear Program

Talks between Iran and the world powers known as the P5+1 have yet to yield an agreement.

LobeLog

Despite rising hopes set by an unexpected turn of events, negotiations in Geneva between Iran and 6 world powers have ended without an agreement over Tehran’s nuclear program. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said instead that they would reconvene with the P5+1 (Britain, China, Russia and the United States plus Germany) political directors on Nov. 20.

“A lot of concrete progress has been achieved but some differences remain,” said Ashton and Zarif in a joint statement after a meeting that included all the P5+1′s Foreign Ministers apart from China’s, who sent their Vice Minister.

“Obviously the 6 countries may have differences of views, but we are working together. Hopefully we will be able to reach an agreement when we meet again,” a smiling Zarif told reporters.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry — who has spent many hours with his Iranian counterpart since his unexpected arrival on Nov. 8 after a brief stop in Tel Aviv — was optimistic at his lone press conference following the Iran/EU presser.

“There’s no question in my mind that we are closer now, as we leave Geneva, than when we came,” said Kerry.

“The negotiations were conducted with mutual respect, they were very serious,” said Kerry, adding: “it takes time to build confidence between countries that have really been at odds for a long time now.”

While emphasizing that the United States would not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon and would retain all options in doing so, the Secretary of State also described “forceful diplomacy as a powerful enough weapon to actually be able to defuse the world’s most threatening weapons of mass destruction.”

While diplomats involved in negotiations over Iran’s controversial nuclear program here have been mostly tight-lipped about the details of their meetings, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius — who was reportedly the first to announce that the talks had ended without an agreement — vocalized some concerns earlier in the day.

Stating that he is interested in an agreement that is “serious and credible”, Fabius argued that the “initial text made progress but not enough” during an interview with France Inter radio on the morning of Nov. 9.

According to François Nicoullaud, France’s former ambassador to Tehran (2001–05), the French position on Iran’s nuclear program has not changed since François Hollande replaced Nicolas Sarkozy on May 12 as President.

“We have a kind of continuity in the French administration where the people who advised Mr. Sarkozy are the same ones who advise the current administration,” the veteran French diplomat told IPS, adding that France’s relations with Iran were more positive during the Jacques Chirac administration.

“This is especially true for the Iranian nuclear case because it’s very technical and complex and the government really needs to be convinced before it changes its position,” he said.

Countering the rising notion that France had played a role in delaying a deal, Zarif, Ashton and Kerry mutually expressed gratitude for all the Foreign Ministers’ contributions to the negotiations.

Kerry said the prevailing secrecy maintained by the P5+1 was a sign of the “seriousness that is taking place” and cautioned against “jumping to conclusions.”

Shortly before Zarif had cautioned against conspiracy theories and reiterated that differences of opinion are normal in such situations while briefing Iranian press, according to the Shargh Daily reformist newspaper.

Speculation that France had postponed a deal arose after Fabius publicly expressed concerns early on Nov. 9 over Iran’s enrichment of 20%-grade uranium and its Arak facility, which is not yet fully operational.

Daryl Kimball, the head of the Arms Control Association, says the Arak facility “is more than a year from being completed; it would have to be fully operational for a year to produce spent fuel that could be used to extract plutonium.”

“Iran does not have a reprocessing plant for plutonium separation; and Arak would be under IAEA safeguards the whole time,” he noted in comments printed in the Guardian.

“The Arak Reactor certainly presents a proliferation problem, but there is nothing urgent,” said Nicoullaud, a veteran diplomat who has previously authored analyses of Iran’s nuclear activities.

“The best solution would be to transform it before completion into a light-water research reactor, which would create less problems,” he said, adding: “This is perfectly feasible, with help from the outside.”

“Have we tried to sell this solution to the Iranians? I do not know,” said Nicoullaud.

While diplomats involved in the talks have provided few details to the media, it’s now become clear that the approximately 6-hour meeting on Nov. 8 between Kerry, Zarif and Ashton involved the consideration of a draft agreement presented by the Iranians.

That meeting contributed to hopes that a document would soon be signed until the early morning hours of Nov. 9, when the LA Times reported that after reaching a critical stage, the negotiators were facing obstacles.

“There has been some progress, but there is still a gap,” Zarif said to reporters according to the Fars News Agency.

Zarif acknowledged France’s concerns but insisted on Iran’s positions.

“We have an attitude and the French have theirs,” said Zarif in comments posted in Persian on the Iranian Student News Agency.

In an exclusive Nov. 7 interview with IPS News, Zarif laid out Iran’s bottom lines in these negotiations.

“We want to see a situation where Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, including enrichment on Iranian territory, is respected and at the same time all sanctions are removed,” he said.

“We are prepared to address the concerns of the international community in the process,” he added.

Jasmin Ramsey is the editor of LobeLog.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has deep connections to the Republican Party and the neoconservative movement.


The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute is a rightist think tank with a broad mandate covering a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that is known for its strong connections to neoconservatism and overseas debacles like the Iraq War.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a far-right pundit known for his hawkish policies and opposition to an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and considered by some to be a future presidential candidate.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share