Friday, July 07, 2006

Iranian-U.S. pre-summit maneuvering

17:52 | 07/ 07/ 2006

"nuclear iran"-- Talks between EU representative Javier Solana and the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, on Iran's nuclear program have been postponed as far as possible, until July 11.

Washington demands that Iran reply by July 12 to the proposals of the Iran Six (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany). This is the last day when it will still be possible to discuss Iran's response at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg. It is clear that the resolution of the problem largely, if not wholly, depends on a compromise between Tehran and Washington. The question is whether they will reach one.

What prevents Iran and the U.S. from holding direct talks in the framework of the Six? Obviously, Washington's increasingly frequent statements about the benefits of getting rid of the ayatollah regime are causing confusion in Tehran. It has grounds to believe that even if it starts seeking a compromise with the U.S., the latter will not give up its goal of regime change and will start pressing it on the UN, just as it did with Iraq. In general, Tehran explains Washington's vague position on guarantees of non-interference in Iran's domestic affairs by its reluctance to give up the role of the world policeman.

But there are some things that worry the U.S. and other members of the Six. Iran considers uranium enrichment in its centrifuges a fait accompli that cannot be abandoned. In its view, the sides should discuss not a moratorium on uranium enrichment but an acceptable number of centrifuges (some sources say that Tehran insists on 3,000-4,000 centrifuges). To resume full-scale negotiations (and engage in complete cooperation with the IAEA, including observance of the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), Tehran primarily needs national security guarantees (non-interference in its domestic affairs), and a right to enrich uranium on a limited scale. Only the U.S. can provide the required guarantees.

It is clear that guarantees should be mutual and fair to both sides. Washington believes that by stopping all work on uranium enrichment before the talks, Tehran would show it is serious about the recent proposals of the Six, which contain clear concessions to Iran. Moreover, Washington regards suspension of uranium enrichment as the main condition for the start of the talks.

Needless to say, Tehran will not accept this condition, and is justified in saying that it sounds like an ultimatum and makes talks pointless.

It is abundantly clear that both sides have reason to suspect the other of hiding its real intentions. Nevertheless, both sides are futilely trying to break the vicious circle with threats.

The U.S. Administration has made it very clear that it will resort to action in the UN Security Council if Tehran does not reply to the Six before July 12. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns refused to specify what action would be taken. In turn, Tehran came up with its usual asymmetrical response. It suspended the talks in Brussels because Mariam Rajavi happened to be there at the time. She is a leader of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), which is banned by the government. Tehran declared to its European partners that the presence of "anti-Iranian terrorist groups, backed by the Zionist regime of Israel and some European countries" threatened the lives of the members of the Larijani delegation. This is a serious argument, and the talks were postponed.

Nevertheless, it would be good timing if Iran and the U.S. found a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem by the G8 summit. Although it is not a key issue on the summit's agenda, its solution (a consensus with Tehran on the proposals of the Six) would logically fit into energy security, which is one of the main topics.

Hopefully, both sides will be more responsive to each other's grievances and suspicions and will eventually resolve the issue diplomatically without resorting to sanctions, not to mention more radical measures. Moscow would like to hear Tehran's response to the proposals, not necessarily a final answer.
source:ria novosti
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk


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