- Posted June 22, 2012 by
Moscow, Russian Federation
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Iran Nuclear Standoff - the roadmap ahead
June 21, 2012
Dr. Reza Taghizadeh (Scotland)
Dr. Mehrdad Emadi (London)
More trips, more meetings, more photo ops. One meeting seems to be nothing more than a preparation for the next. After Istanbul and then Baghdad, this time Moscow was the host for the latest meeting between Iran and the P5+1 group. Meetings in which each side attempts to guide the other to what each perceives to be the “right” path.
P5+1 keeps asking Iran to forget about its 20% Uranium enrichment and to turn in all that it already has enriched. Iran on the other hand, keeps asking for recognition of its right to enrich, and for reversal of the sanctions. It is also hoping to strengthen its involvment in Iraq and Syria, as well.
Alas, many view the Progress Report of these meetings as another blank page. Others believe the very agreement to meet yet again in Moscow was a sign of success,in and of itself.
For the West, Iran’s nuclear case has been a proverbial fishbone lodged in its throat. Aside from the fear that Iranian enriched Uranium can evolve into a nuclear bomb, the West is equally afraid to simply walk away from negotiation tables and turn the game over to the Generals.
Both sides are mired with complications. It seems as though both have become complacent with these monthly meetings, until they find something new to say while merely hoping for resolutions to show up.
. . .
Enayat Fani (Host): Mr. Emadi, are you among the optimists or pessimists in this regard?
Mehrdad Emadi: I have maintained my ‘cautious’ optimism about an eventual ending to this era of distrust and suspicion. I hope the next step would be towards seeking practical solutions, rather than insisting on demands that seem to defy logic and reason - at least for now. Perhaps in the next year or two they would stand a chance of materializing, but for the time being, all they have done is to bring us all to a standstill. A more realistic approach would be to take small but productive steps but steps in the right direction.
Host: Mr. Emadi, it appears that the only positive outcome of these meetings is that they seem to continue on, although Lady Ashton has expressed disappointment and Mr. Hague has called them “lost opportunities”. How could you remain optimistic?
Emadi: You are correct. However, the very fact that Iran suddenly lowered its expectations, despite the insurmountable problems facing it in the past six years of sanctions or the last thirty, for that matter; the fact that they abandoned the culture of “Expecting Miracles”; the fact that they finally realized the gravity of the situation and are now consulting experts in their decision making process. I see all that as positive moves, no doubt. Anytime we choose to make giant leaps without preparation, we end up on slippery slopes. If we want progress, we must take small steps and align our expectations with those steps. In my opinion, it was certain unreasonable expectations and predictions ahead of Baghdad that made that meeting rather unsuccessful.
Host: Mr. Taghizadeh, how long do you think the West is going to wait to reach its goals?
Reza Taghizadeh: They sure seem to be getting quite close. The Westerners’ main goal is to prevent Iran from following the path of India, Pakistan and North Korea. The goal here is to turn Iran into another Libya or Iraq in terms of shattered nuclear hopes. I imagine and documents prove that the West is fast approaching that goal which is to deprive Iran of its oil revenues, cripple its foreign trade and they are now just steps away from achieving that goal. Significant progress has been made to that end, as today’s statistical reports attest to the reality that Iran’s oil exports in the last six months did drop by one million barrels per day; as previously predicted.
They expect Iran to eventually capitulate under economic pressure. If nothing changes, in the next eight months, Iran will have achieved absolutely nothing. Yes, it has possession of 160 kg of 20%, and 4000 kg of lower grade enriched Uranium. It is capable of building a nuclear bomb, if it so chooses. But overall the status quo will lead to major losses for Iran and slow but certain gains for the continuously defiant West.
Host: The consensus in Iran’s leadership is that Western leaders are not trustworthy and that they are determined to bring Iran to its knees, no matter what. This notion must have a bearing on Iran’s willingness to negotiate.
Taghizadeh: Certainly. Keep in mind that asking Iran to halt the enrichment process is just the initial demand. The ultimate goal is to bring the wheels of Iranian nuclear energy to a complete stop.
Host: Mr. Emadi, Why did the Moscow meeting fail? Given all the joint efforts that went into this event, especially by the Russians who have a vested interest in the success of these negotiations.
Emadi: In my opinion, it was because of the lack of unity in goals sought by the players in this game of chess. Each side has within its folds, elements with ulterior and untransparent motives. One such motive is to prevent resolutions for Iran’s problems. I know elements both inside and outside Iran who enjoy watching the negotiations hanging in a limbo state. As Mr. Taghizadeh stated, the longer we wait, the weaker we become, the shorter our parameters of action.
Time is not on Iran’s side, between now and November it can only get worse. It is in Iran’s best interest to take the first steps in making its plans more transparent. The 20% enrichment is done. Iran has proven technical capacity to enrich even further. Why insist on its position, despite the knowledge that in the next two weeks Iran’s oil revenues are definitely going to drop by at least 30%?
There is deficit in revenues and deficit in the State budget leaving the government with its ongoing financial conundrum, so what is the point of holding on to an obstinate position? They can instead, agree to halt further enrichment, make themselves more transparent and in turn ask the West to prove that its intentions are not to destroy Iran.
Host: Mr. Taghizadeh, what exactly are these experts going to discuss now?
Taghizadeh: The initial requests. That Iran should surrender its 20% enriched Uranium and what will it receive in return. During the Bush (senior) administration, the United States announced willingness to deliver to Iran, aircraft parts for its Boeing passenger aircrafts. Iran is also asking for a delay in the July 1st plans to cancel its shipping insurance that is provided by Lloyds of London. However, as evident in Moscow meetings, nothing is moving forward because obviously the representatives from both sides are waiting for certain fringe developments. Americans don’t want more conflict in the region. Oil companies don’t want more tremors in the market. Russia and China aren’t exactly content with the current conditions. Also Iran is not going to gain anything in the coming months; if not incurring further losses.
Host: Mr. Emadi, the upcoming round of sanctions will go into effect July 1st, meaning that the next meeting of experts will take place, after the sanctions are in effect. If negotiations are successful, how quickly can the Western countries reverse the sanctions?
Emadi: The sanctions against transportation insurance can be immediately stopped. Both Lloyds and Credit Suisse can quickly stop them. Even Swift can issue certain codes for the trade of food and pharmaceuticals. These will be immediate. However, it will take a year or even longer for things like foreign investments to return to Iran. At this point I must add that our immediate problem is the lack of Swift codes and transportation insurance, which have seriously hindered our trading ability. Iran’s foreign trade has turned into delivering suitcases full of Cash money for every deal it makes with neighboring or other countries. Even that is going to get more difficult, if not impossible in the coming weeks.
Host: Mr. Taghizadeh, as you know the Russians have exerted extra efforts during this process, to no avail. How is this going to impact Iran-Russia relations?
Taghizadeh: There’s definitely a cold spell in Iranian-Russian relations, ever since Russia’s meddling in Iran’s nuclear plans returned unfavorable results. Moscow however, does not want to take responsibility for the failure of Iran-talks. In their recent visits with Ahmadinejad, both Putin and later Lavrov expressed their concerns and asked for Iran to reconsider its position.
On Iran’s nuclear activity, China’s and Russia’s position is not at odds with that of the Western countries, since they too view Iran not so much as a country on the verge of becoming a nuclear energy source, but rather one on the verge of becoming a military nuclear power.
Host: Mr. Emadi, as you know, aside from requesting a waiver on the sanctions, Iran has also asked for consideration of its role in establishing security in Syria, in Bahrain and elsewhere. Is this even appropriate?
Emadi: Absolutely not. The whole point and purpose of the P5+1 meeting was to discuss and come to terms with Iran’s nuclear issue and instead Iran pulls other issues and irrelevant concerns out of its hat. This was Iran’s attempt to throw a banana peel in front of the negotiation talks, so it can take a fall.
Again, if the intention is genuinely to find a solution for our problems, we must begin with small steps and begin from the center, in this case the IAEA. One positive IAEA report on Iran can dissipate many of the concerns that the United States and European Union currently have.
Host: Mr. Hague has stated that the pressure will only increase, if Iran’s position remains unchanged. What specific pressures?
Emadi: Well, there are countries currently buying oil from Iran and selling its by-products to other nations. The sanctions would also target that chain of 2nd and 3rd generation of trade. Also the banks that engage in financial transactions with Iran would be sanctioned. For example, a bank in Kuala Lampur doing business with a bank in Shanghai in China that does business with Iran, could find itself on the list of the sanctions.
The scope of these new sanctions can be vast and far-reaching in unprecedented proportions.
In six months time, perhaps only 1/5th of those currently doing business with Iran will be willing to continue that relationship.
Host: Mr. Taghizadeh, given all this, do you think the next round of talks could possibly turn up a more cooperative Iran?
Taghizadeh: Well, that is what we hope for, however there are no indications of that on the horizon. Mr. Jalili’s remarks in Moscow and earlier in Istanbul and Baghdad were the exact reenactment of the same failed talks in Geneva. Iran hasn’t changed its position at all, since Geneva.
I don’t believe that the goal of the sanctions is to cause a sudden crippling of Iran’s economy. I think the U.S. and other Western countries are seeking a gradual weakening and slow death of Iran! AND they are succeeding without creating a crisis, without even allowing Iran a chance to react, without Iran crossing any red lines. Otherwise, the U.S. would not have exempted seven countries from Iran sanctions. The U.S. could have easily kept India, one of Iran’s largest customers, in the circle of nations bound by sanctions against Iran.
I think the plan is to keep Iranian oil exports at 800,000 to 1 million b/d range, until Iran is gradually weekend and completely disarmed of what used to be referred to as the “Oil Weapon”. And if Iran consents to these conditions, great; if not, the changes in domestic climate will eventually impose them on the country.
Host: Mr. Taghizadeh, by “Slow Death” you mean Iran’s nuclear program, I hope! And not in other areas or other means, right?
Taghizadeh: Oh yes, yes, of course.
. . . . .