Monday, 18 June 2012

The Latest from Iran (18 June): The Nuclear Talks in Moscow

0540 GMT: The delegations of Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China) are about to open their third round of formal talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

The signs of any advance at the Moscow talks are dim. The last round in late May in Baghdad almost broke down, with hours spent just to get the declaration of another set of discussions, and the intervening period has been marked by Iran's denunciation of the European Union for refusing preparatory talks and the US/European response that the Islamic Republic has not been serious about discussions on the fundamental issues.

In numerous previews of today's encounter, that spin from American and European diplomats has continued. The assurance, "We are very much determined to pursue this process as long there is momentum to pursue, and as long as there is commitment (from Iran) to pursue the nuclear issue in substance," is followed by the emphasis, "But there is a time limit also ... We will have to say 'no' to talks for talks' sake."

That line has been developed with 1) the Iranians never seriously considered the Western offer in Baghdad --- "[lead Iranian negotiator Saeed] Jalili did not even give the proposal a passing glance when it was handed over"; and 2) the Iranians have to engage with that offer today.

All of this evades the reality that the Iranian delegation not only noted the proposal --- which asks Tehran to give up enrichment of 20% percent uranium, with no assurance that Iran can enrich to any level, in return for the token measure of parts for the Islamic Republic's aircraft --- with a clear answer in Baghdad and afterwards: This Sucks.

John Limbert, a former US diplomat with specialist expertise on Iran, summarises, "We're talking about one thing, all these legal and technical issues; and the Iranians are talking about their place in the world, their rights, their sovereignty. We just talk past each other. And both sides come away saying, 'They are not listening to us.'"

Barring a surprise, that play will be acted out once more today and tomorrow. The most that can be expected is yet another last-minute attempt to agree another place and time for negotiations.

This time, however, there is a difference. Before that fourth round occurs, the next step in the main Western approach to Iran --- pressure the Islamic Republic into concessions --- will not just be threatened but will be taken. On 1 July, the European Union will cut off imports of Iranian oil.

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

Posted via email from lissping