THE NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS WITH PERSIA: AN UPDATE
"Iran’s nuclear negotiations with world powers now resemble the Middle East peace process – often heavy on process, never successful on peace. Given the high stakes involved, both Tehran and those negotiating with it have an interest in continuing to talk, even if they know that a breakthrough is impossible. This became increasingly apparent after last weekend’s failure of negotiations in Almaty, where Iran rebuffed a new international proposal on curbing parts of its programme and put forward ideas of its own. Western officials said the Almaty talks had underlined the deep gap between Iran’s expectations and world powers’ demands, though that should not have come as a surprise. Yet they also insisted that there was no breakdown and, even if an agreement remains elusive, some analysts argue the cost of not having a process is too high to contemplate. While the threat of Israeli military action still looms large and the US insists that all options remain on the table, officials and experts say diplomacy has not run its course. It will continue, in some form, until at least the autumn, when a new Iranian president will be in place after the June election. Even when Iran’s internal house is in better order, however, the prospects of what is seen as a “small” negotiated deal, in which limits on Iran’s stockpile of 20 per cent enriched uranium, the most pressing concern, are traded for modest relief from sanctions, will still be remote.... Iran has indicated that it is willing to negotiate over the 20 per cent enrichment but needs to see some of the sanctions that are crippling the economy – on banking and oil – peeled off. For western powers, however, giving up the main tools of pressure constrains the ability to force Iran into other crucial concessions. Indeed, it is possible that even as contacts between Iran and world powers continue, sanctions will be tightened. US legislators are already drafting a Senate bill to punish foreign companies that do business with any government-controlled Iranian entity.... Are there ways to break the deadlock? Some experts suggest making clear to Iran that after a comprehensive nuclear deal it would be able to have some enrichment capacity, although tightly supervised, might give Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, sufficient comfort to move forward with the negotiations.... “In many ways the more pressure, the more Iran feels the need to resist,” argues Mr Fitzpatrick. “It’s a very resistance-oriented society.”Roula Khalaf, "Iran talks hold some hope despite deadlock." The Financial Times. 11 April 2013. In www.ft.com
"It is apparent that Iran [Persia]'s determined drive to become the superpower of the Persian Gulf hinges, at least in the short term, on two unpredictable variables: Khomeini's health and the outcome of the war with Iraq...Khomeini and those around him have gambled everything on the war---the economy, the nation's influence in international affairs, the legitimacy of th leadership, possibly the fate of the revolution itself. Each of these factors rises and falls as Iran [Persia] seems to be winning or losing. If Iran [Persia] is ultimately forced to accept an outcome approximating the status quo ante, it will be more likely to turn inward and focus on its enormous internal problems."Gary Sick, "Iran [Persia]'s Quest for Superpower Status." Foreign Affairs. (Spring 1987), p. 715. The view annunciated by the Financial Times Near Eastern correspondent about the state of the nuclear talks with Persia are very illuminating for a certain bien-pensant point of view. The view that au fond, Persia is bound eventually to obtain nuclear weapons and that there is not much that the Western powers can do to stop this process. Slow it perhaps, but stop it, no. I fundamentally disagree. I do of course gainsay the idea that military strikes, least of all by Israel is a proper means of remedying this problem. Far from it. Of course some type of military pressure is necessary to keep the mad Mullahs in Persia off their balance. But the actuality of missile strikes on Persia is almost as frightening as Persia' having nuclear weapons. Would say though that more rather than less economic pressure is needed on Tehran and in addition the possibility of a naval blockade of should seriously be considered. As per the argument that: 'In many ways the more pressure, the more Iran feels the need to resist', overlooks the fact that in 1988-1989, under massive military and economic pressure, Persia capitulated and signed a peace treaty with Iraq, for terms which it had refused to consider for upwards of four years. So much for Persia being 'a very resistance-oriented society'. It is a society, like any other society: it will inevitably bend if not collapse if enough weight is put on the scales against it. It is merely a matter of determining how much more weight needs to be added. Pur et simple.