May 24, 2012
U.S. Still Not Serious In Talks With Iran
Back in January Laura Rozen reported on the U.S. negotiation position towards Iran's nuclear program:
Under the proposed measure, which the U.S. has been presenting to its P5+1 partners, Iran would agree to halt enriching uranium to 20 percent, and turn over its existing stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. In exchange, western countries would agree not to pass another UN Security Council Resolution sanctioning Iran.
I characterized that position as ludicrous. Iran would have to give up all the progress it has made while enduring sanctions for ... NOTHING. It showed that the U.S. was not interested in serious negotiations.
Four month later the U.S. is still not serious about negotiations. Current talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Baghdad again offer Iran nothing of value:
In its proposal to Iran here on Wednesday, the P5+1 offered to ease sanctions that bar the exports of U.S.-made spare aircraft parts to Iran's national carriers and aid for Iran's development of nonmilitary applications for nuclear power, people briefed on the talks said.
In return, the international bloc formally proposed to Iran that it freeze production of nuclear fuel enriched to 20% purity and ship its stockpile of the fuel to a third country, Western diplomats said. The proposal package also seeks to close an Iranian enrichment facility built inside a fortified military bunker near the holy city of Qom.
The only additional offer here are aircraft parts Iran can either make itself or buy from China and some "aid" for civil nuclear programs that Iran has proven it does not need.
For that Iran would have to give up 20% enrichment it needs for its Tehran Research reactor which nowadays is used for nuclear medicine. Iran has payed for this already by enduring the current sanctions. It will not give up on it without getting back something valuable. And why should it close the enrichment plant near Qom? That site is not, as the WSJ claims, a military installation and it is under IAEA control. Why should Iran make it easier for the U.S. and Israel to eventually bomb its civilian nuclear program?
Why would Iran, or anyone else in such a position, agree to such a lopsided offer?
Unless the unreasonable U.S. position changes today there will nothing come out of these talks but hand wringing and more bullshit about bombing Iran. You might want to fill up your gas tank before renewed warmongering sends gas prices through the roof.
Posted by b on May 24, 2012 at 04:29 AM | Permalink
Iran can counter-propose a MORATORIUM on any further enrichment to 20%, and also a MOTHBALLING of Fordow. It can also agree to ship its existing stockpile of 20% uranium stock (but not the stuff that has already been turned into fuel rods, since that's no threat to anyone).
In return the P5+1 will have to agree to supply additional fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, and also start lifting the existing sanctions.
That's a good deal, because it keeps both sides on their toes i.e.
1) Iran can't cheat because Fordow is under full IAEA supervision, and so the moment they cheat the USA and EU will slam those sanctions down again.
2) The P5+1 can't renege on the supply of fuel rods because nobody be able to complain about Iran restarting Fordow if it can't get those rods from foreign sources.
That's certainly going to be the counter proposal that Iran will table, and if the USA won't accept it then, surely, they aren't interested in anything other than "unconditional surrender".
Posted by: Johnboy | May 24, 2012 7:07:32 AM | 1
The staring position of USA negotiation is indeed rather stern, but in any negotiation, there is room for yealding, at least that seems to be US strategy on this. But still, what can they expect Iran to offer? Only reasonable counterdeal I can see is, Iran will only enrich to 20%, not over, Iran will allow inspectors to Parchin microdiamond site, an all sanctions should be lifted.
What they land on, I have no idea, but your assessment seems right b. I doubt US are going to divert much from the Israeli position on this. I'll be really surprised if any deal is reached.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 7:53:45 AM | 2
the international bloc formally proposed to Iran that it freeze production of nuclear fuel enriched to 20% purity and ship its stockpile of the fuel to a third country,
Is there any other way to read this? Could it mean that Iran will have to freeze there enrichment to 20%, that is, continue enriching - up to 20% but not over?
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 7:57:12 AM | 3
and, i would say, iran is still not serious about talks with the u.s. the talks are a ruse, and both sides know it. i think you do, as well, yet you play on as though you don't. both sides use the "talks" as a platform to spin their propaganda. we've been down this road before. we know where it goes. no reason to pretend it will end differently this time.
Posted by: wenis | May 24, 2012 8:51:35 AM | 4
US regime is never serious..not while under zionist control
Posted by: brian | May 24, 2012 8:56:19 AM | 5
@3 "up to 20% but not over?"
No, because the "western" logic goes like this: enrichment to 5% is (grudgingly) acceptible, but the only "peaceful" use for 20% uranium is that Tehran Research Reactor, and that represents such a small "domestic" demand that it does not justify Iran enriching to that level.
So the "compromise" offer from the P5+1 is:
1) Iran can enrich to 5% under very stringent guidelines
2) Iran must destroy its capability to enrich to 20%
3) Iran must surrender its existing stockpile of 20% uranium.
In return "the West" will agree to supply fuel rods for the TRR.
All well and good, and probably acceptable to Tehran **if** it trusts the P5+1 to deliver those rods i.e. that the P5+1 WON'T screw them over once they get their hands on that Iranian stockpile.
Since the current proposal contains n.o.t.h.i.n.g. that would prevent the P5+1 from simply screwing over the Iranians then the mullahs must be very suspicious about western intentions.
"Confidence building" works both ways, but you wouldn't think that from listening to all those (unnamed) "western diplomats" that are so often quoted in the mainstream press.
Posted by: Johnboy | May 24, 2012 8:59:38 AM | 6
i have a solution...let US end its nuclear program and Iran can end its.
but done treat US and Iran as on the same level...US is by far the less honest and more odious broker
Posted by: brian | May 24, 2012 9:04:22 AM | 7
Yeah, it's not like either US or Iran has invested much in the nuclear field, so why not abandon it?
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 9:23:30 AM | 8
As Iran has put their international trade on the line for nuclear development, and excavated enormous underground enrichment facilities, I see no scenario where they would be willing to give up those investments. Energy inedpendence, and even exporting is a huge deal for Iran. And with the position they have been put by western powers, giving up that independence for some weak promise from the west, who are trying to cut Iran off from their NPT-negotiated rights, is not going to happen.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 9:29:38 AM | 9
Yeah, it's not like either US or Iran has invested much in the nuclear field, so why not abandon it?
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 9:23:30 AM | 8
is that all you think of? Money?
Fukushima ring a bell?
Posted by: brian | May 24, 2012 9:40:32 AM | 10
What I think of isn't really relevant is it, neither US or Iran cares.. As far as I'm concerned I'd like to see everyone migrate to renewables. But strictly speaking of negotiated treaties, and what's invested, I don't see Iran abandoning nuclear electricity, uranium enrichment or medical isotope research-reactors anytime soon.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 10:09:33 AM | 11
it is very clear the west is trying to get a lot for nothing , as usual. Lessons leraned from the Iraq war shows not to trust the west. I still remember when Saddam was told to destroy his missiles, and any defensive power he possessed in return for no war, well, we saw what happened there. The west's startegy is to weaken their target as much as possible with empty promises and then fabricate some excuse to renege.
Iran few options. Demand an independent body from the UN to oversee the agreement and its implementation and tie into guarantees of lifting sanctions and equivalent levels of enrichment on all IAEA countries.
I am sure this will not go well. The real issue here is that the west is doing Israel's bidding to keep Iran weak. And Israel is threatening to turn the region upside down if the west does not succeed. Israel has the arrogance and military power (thanx to the west) to make this threat which I believe why western countries are doing this. It doesn't matter what Iran does, Israel wants, is what the west is doing. All in all, unless Iran has some magic somewhere to punish Israel, they have no choice but to bend over. Iran has to wait for Israel to weaken which is very likely after the Arab spring hits all the arab countries, espcially Saudi arabia, qatar etc...Then Israel has no more friends in the area and Iran becomes stronger to say, go to hell.
Posted by: ana souri | May 24, 2012 10:39:40 AM | 12
Spam @ 10.
Posted by: Jeremiah Cornelius | May 24, 2012 10:59:48 AM | 13
I'm surprised that the US and its European lap dogs don't name the "third country" that Iran is supposed to ship its uranium to. That country would be Israel.
Shipping an NPT signatory's uranium to a warmongering, non-signatory would be completely consistent with US' ludicrous policy.
And why isn't AIPAC labeling Obama as treasonous for not having demanded that he ship Iran's nuclear material to Israel? I mean, doesn't Israel need a few hundred more nukes to threaten the world with?
Look for a Congressional resolution anytime soon...
Posted by: JohnH | May 24, 2012 11:05:56 AM | 14
We reached ludicrous speed years ago,when we failed to note the Israeli arsenal of actual nukes while pointing fingers at potential Iranian nukes,but what else is new in our premodern times of Hypocrisy Now?
Posted by: dahoit | May 24, 2012 11:08:43 AM | 15
Talks will continue in mid June in Moscow
Tony Karon with an overview: In Nuclear Talks, Iran and the West Agree to Disagree – and Keep Talking
A breakthrough proved predictably elusive in the two days of nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers that ended late Thursday in Baghdad, but it took strenuous diplomacy — and an unscheduled second day of talks — to avert a breakdown. Despite sharp differences over what each side is willing to offer in order to resolve the standoff, Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) have agreed to hold another round of talks on June 18 and 19, this time in Moscow. That suggests that sufficient common ground has been identified to warrant continued negotiations — or, at minimum, that neither side has much appetite for the alternative to diplomacy in addressing the standoff.
U.S. officials told the Post that such steps could only be taken once Iran had come into compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, which would mean suspending all uranium enrichment. For Tehran, that’s a non-starter. The Iranians insist that enrichment to 3.5% is their right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty — and having defiantly maintained that position through six years of escalating pressure, they are unlikely to back down now. Iran’s handling of the Baghdad talks suggests it has a different reading on the balance of power, and is signaling that by declining a new round of talks before the other side gives more ground. “We believe that the two parties must agree on common points to merit a new round of negotiations,” explained AFP’s Iranian source. In his view, “the Western parties want to continue these negotiations at any cost. This is not our position.”
If the U.S. continues to block a deal thee will be no deal.
Maybe it is time for Iran to again lift the price of oil into recession territory.
Posted by: b | May 24, 2012 2:34:52 PM | 16
There are good arguments both ways on this, but can we stop with the oil price mongering? Take a look at how the price of oil has plummeted in the last few months despite the start of the US-driven Iran oil boycott and predictions of $200 oil as a result. US oil stockpiles are at 22-year highs (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-05-23/oil-extends-drop-after-u-dot-s-dot-supplies-increase-to-22-year-high). There is plenty of oil around, as long as Saudi Arabia and the oil sheikdoms keep pumping them out. And they will, since they are major proponents of tough sanctions against Iran.
So, let's talk about the merits of US strategy vs Iran, but let's stop misinforming people with unfounded speculation about oil prices.
Posted by: A V | May 24, 2012 3:46:49 PM | 17
The oilprice went down when Obama announced the sanctions were not going to be effectuated. Iran has the power to regulate the price up again by simply stating they will enforce their own embargo of some select EU countries.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 4:02:45 PM | 18
This assertion is simply not true. Prices are set based on supply/demand. Iran exports 2 million barrels/day of oil (without sanctions) in an 80 million barrel/day market. Saudia Arabia produces 9-11 million barrels/day. Iran is too small a producer to have the power to affect the price of oil for any length of time especially when Saudi Arabia and oil sheikdoms have already made up any possible shortage even if Iran can't export a drop of oil. That's what the market is seeing and why the price is dropping.
Things aren't true just because you'd like to believe them to be true. My advice is that you not invest any money in the oil market using this set of beliefs. You'd be penniless in a short time.
Posted by: A V | May 24, 2012 4:18:48 PM | 19
The jury's out on that, what I see from my angle is any statement, whim of future supply or rumor of war is enough to affect the price. Supply/demand does only so much for the price.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 4:31:20 PM | 20
I have to disagree with b on this one. I happen to believe that Obama has accepted that Iran has the right to enrich U and to keep its plant at Fordow. What he has to do because of political considerations is drag the talks out until November. We will probably see a similar outcome a month from now when the talks reconvene in Moscow. AIPAC and Israel is waiting to pounce if Obama shows any sign of flexibility in these talks.
Posted by: ToivoS | May 24, 2012 4:42:47 PM | 21
ToivoS might actually be right on that, I too believe we will se dramatically different politics from Obama after the election.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 4:52:47 PM | 22
err, somewhat different anyway.
Posted by: Alexander | May 24, 2012 4:53:11 PM | 23
@14 "That country would be Israel."
Russia, probably. Maybe Turkey. If you want to think "neutral" then maybe Brazil.
But Israel? No, the P5+1 would never suggest that.
Posted by: Johnboy | May 24, 2012 7:42:33 PM | 24