Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Latest from Iran (18 December): Tehran's Strategy for the Nuclear Talks

0615 GMT: On Monday, we featured a special analysis, "Breaking the Deadlock in the Nuclear Negotiations", which assessed the US strategy and cautioned:

The only way out of this dead-end is to make reciprocity meaningful by both sides committing themselves to actions which reassure the other and promote mutual security.  This is the real challenge behind the US invitation to enter into "good-faith serious negotiations".

Hours later, there was a media flutter that the deadlock was being broken, with the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi putting out the signal, "The two sides have reached the conclusion that they must exit the current stalemate."

Unfortunately, this was a classic case of seeing a tree and turning it into a forest. Those jumping on the one sentence as a major advance failed to see the counter-signals from Western officials that Iranian concessions were still the pre-condition for any significant talks: 

"We see that sanctions do have an economic impact on Iran and it is a matter for Iran to really take this offer seriously."

They also failed to look at a wave of Iranian statements beyond Salehi's. In recent days, officials from the Supreme Leader's top advisor Ali Akbar Velayati to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmenparast have issued statements trying to split the European members of the 5+1 Powers --- Britain, France, and Germany --- from the US.

And in the last 48 hours, Tehran has raised the rhetorical heat to try and detach the International Atomic Energy Agency --- with whom Iran was in direct talks in Tehran last Thursday --- from Washington. State media are accompanying statements from officials with headlines such as "IAEA Must Prove Independence from Western Powers" and "US Sanctions Aimed at Torpedoing Iran-IAEA Talks".

Will the effort work, bringing what Iran sees as genuine "reciprocity" through an agreement on inspection and supervision of its nuclear facilities, thus giving a platform for further negotiations with the 5+1 Powers?

Too soon to tell, of course. The IAEA's next visit to Tehran will be on 16 January. If that goes well, then --- and only then --- can we look for a resumption of the high-level discussions and the "breaking of the deadlock" that some people thought they saw on Monday.

from EA WorldView: EA Iran

Posted via email from lissping