THE PERSIAN NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS: AN UPDATE FROM THE NEW AMERICA SOCIETY
The New America Society, a liberal, bourgeois, bien-pensant, non-profit institution in the United States, whose only redeeming feature appears to be the presence of the great journalist and writer, Anatol Lieven, had a function to-day in mid-town Manhattan dealing with the current state of the nuclear negotiations between the Western Powers and Teheran. The chief 'draw' for this event was none other than Hossein Mousavian, a former, high-ranking Persian diplomat and negotiator. Mousavian, has recently co-written a book dealing with the past history and future prospects of the nuclear negotiations (Iran [sic] and the United States: an insider's view on the failed past and the road to Peace.), published by Princeton University Press. Among Mousavian's more salient and interesting comments at the event were the following:
'Frankly speaking the same [the interim agreement signed in November of last year] agreement could have been arrived at in 2004 / 2005'. And that it was the United States which vetoed said possible agreement. Resulting in as per Mousavian 'missing 8, 9, 10 years for nothing'. As per Mousavian there is both good and bad aspects to the agreement: the 'good' aspect is that Persia agrees to both the de facto and the de jure, uphold the provisions of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty of 1968 (hereafter 'NPT' for short). The 'bad' aspect is that as per Mousavian, the 'World Powers' (as he terms them), are looking for Persian concessions beyond the provisions of NPT. In particular in the areas of the number of nuclear plants, enrichment capacity and access to Persian nuclear sites. As per Mousavian, the Persians are willing for the sake of a comprehensive and final agreement to agree to certain terms which go beyond NPT, for upwards of four years. Teheran, as per Mousavian, is completely unwilling to agree to such extraordinary terms for say ten to twenty years. As per Mousavian, the talks which recently adjourned after a truncated session in Wien, are not yet at an impasse. However, what is needed for success in the talks is: a) bilateral sessions `a la what occurred last year to produce the interim agreement; b) that the American Administration need to ignore both the pressures of domestic political groups and those coming from the Israeli government. According to Mousavian, it was these negative variables, which prevented the Americans from agreeing to previous Persian attempts at a modus vivendi back in 1988-1989 and 2001-2002. Mousavian does say that both countries need and do not presently have a 'comprehensive strategy' to resolve successfully both the nuclear issue and the question of normalizing bi-lateral relations. In the realm of Saudi-Persian relations, he claims that relations can also be normalized. As per Mousavian, the key problem in so preventing the same is that Saudi Arabia is 'too occupied by the Syrian issue', to come to terms with Teheran. Similarly, on the issue of Persian-Israeli relations, Mousavian, is reasonably optimistic: neither country is an 'existential threat' to the other. What Tel Aviv needs to do is drop the idea that it can employ or indeed has a veto over both the course of the nuclear negotiations and over Persian-American relations. That the Israelis need to remember that they can easily be negatively impacted (from the Lebanon one presumes, but Mousavian did not care to elaborate upon), by the fallout of armed conflict over the nuclear issue. And similarly, that a resolution of the issue would have a very positive impact on Israel's regional profile. Finally, Mousavian warned that for the Americans to introduce the question of Persian missile capacity is a non-starter and would indeed effectively derail the negotiations. That Persian missile capacity and range can only be resolved on a 'regional basis'. And no other.What is one to make of Mousavian's comments? Besides the special pleadings for the views and indeed policies of the current regime in Teheran, it appears to be the case that Mousavian is laying out the maximum goals that Persia can live with. And conversely that in fact, Teheran will, if push comes to shove, agree to the desiderata of the Western Powers as outlined. Including one is tempted to believe some type of language dealing with Persia's missile programme. And while I for one am not enamoured of the concept of employing force to resolve the conundrum of Persia's nuclear programme, putting even more pressure on the regime of Mullahs will assist in obtaining the very best settlement. In that mix, the possible employment of force, at least as a 'threat perception' for Teheran may be necessary. As the former American Defence Department official, Matthew Kroenig recently argued in the London periodical the Spectator, force, the ultima ratio will be employed, even by the current American administration:
"If Iran's [sic] nuclear programme continues to advance, therefore, then there may very well come a time to attack" 1.1. Matthew Kroenig, "Would Obama bomb Iran?" The Spectator (London). 17 May 2014, pp. 20-21. See also: www.spectator.co.uk.