Iran Nuclear Program Talks: Will it Ever Result in Final Agreement?

Iran Nuclear Program Talks: Will it Ever Result in Final Agreement?

The nuclear talks with Iran have to be concluded by the November 24 deadline. The final countdown is on with less than three weeks left to go. Nothing makes one believe an agreement can be reached till the fixed date. 

U.S. Foreign Minister John Kerry, his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and Catherine Ashton, the EU’s envoy to the nuclear negotiations, will hold a tripartite summit on November 9 in Muskat, Oman, in an attempt to reach a breakthrough leading to a permanent agreement on the Iranian nuclear program within the agreed time limit. John Kerry said the talks are a hard bargain and differences remain hindering the attempts to narrow the gap between the parties’ stances. One way or another, the three party meeting will set the tone for the endgame. The situation is complicated because the United States goes beyond the nuclear issue and adds other claims that neither Beijing, nor Moscow agrees with. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia does its best to make an agreement be reached by the fixed date. 

Moscow believes the goal is to do away with the concerns over the use of nuclear power for other than peaceful purposes. At that Iran has a right for peaceful research and uranium enrichment conducted under strict control of International Atomic Energy Agency. This position was once again stated by Nikolai Patrushev, the Secretary of Security Council of Russia, as he met Alí Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, in Iran. 

The Kremlin stands for full lifting of the sanctions against Iran but doing away with the sanctions permanently seems to be a complicated matter for Washington. The contemporary world is too interdependent; it’s much easier to impose bans than to unilaterally end them without implications, like, for instance, to terminate a sanctions regime against another state. Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser, recognized the importance of rapprochement with Iran to President Obama, who is looking to establish his legacy as his presidency enters its lame-duck phase. At that the President faces serious opposition in Congress which calls for a tough stand on the Iranian issue. Congressmen are not prone to consider the very possibility of lifting the sanctions. The White House says that this is the best time for a diplomatic solution but congressmen refuse to listen. Many US lawmakers set more store by the words spoken by the Israeli Prime Minister than by the arguments put forward by their own President. 

Benjamin Netanyahu made Obama angry as he took a tough stand against an arrangement with Iran and stated his intent to go straight to Congress and American people in case a nuclear accord is reached. The Israeli Premier supports a military solution. He wants the United States to bomb Iran. The US Jewish lobby is doing its best to hinder the negotiation process. President Obama is looking for the ways to go around Congress. All the parties to the talks, including Russia and Iran, have to realize that, even if the US President strikes an accord with Iran that would forestall its ability to make a nuclear weapon, nothing will be guaranteed as Congress may oppose it. The President has the authority to suspend the vast majority of those sanctions without seeking a vote by Congress, but Mr. Obama cannot permanently terminate those sanctions. Only Congress can take this step. 

But the lawmakers are not in a hurry to do it; they want to be sure that Iran complies with its obligations after the nuclear dossier is closed. 

The hostility between the United States and Iran has lasted for dozens of years. Now Tehran has become a real pain in the neck for Washington. The Islamic Republic of Iran came to replace the Shah’s regime that fell in 1979. It is one of a few really sovereign states in the world. Iran is on its own; the fact is mirrored by its unique state structure, independent decisions on the use of natural resources and foreign policy aimed at defending national interests. Washington tries to make Iran a vassal state by making it bow under the weight of international isolation and economic blockade. The plans have failed. 

Now the question is where Iran will move when the economic sanctions are lifted. 

The Obama administration believes that Iran should make peace with America and distance itself from Russia. Until now Tehran has not made anything to substantiate such hopes. Just remember the recent statements criticizing the United States and Great Britain made by Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei. He accused these states of being behind the emergence of the Islamic State and the general instability in the Middle East. According to him, Great Britain is a «satanic state» which together with the United States and Israel works to deepen divisions between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Taking into consideration the Iran’s government system these statements are nothing less than direct orders given to the government, including the President. No doubt that all the steps, including the concessions at the talks, made by President Rouhani are personally approved by Ayatollah Khomenei. It also applies to the rapprochement with Russia (there have been five Russia-Iran summits during the recent year). 

There is another conflict looming sparked by Iran nuclear issue talks. The differences between the United States and Israel have been exacerbating. The White House does not hide it’s exasperation with Israel and its stance on Iran. There is an unprecedented war of words going on. An unnamed Obama administration official called Benjamin Netanyahu a «chickenshit» in an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffery Goldberg on October 28. «The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit», the unnamed official told Goldberg expressing the Obama administration’s frustration with the Israeli Premier who is thinking only about his political survival. Washington also has serious contradictions with Saudi Arabia. 

The conclusion of nuclear agreement may become an acid test of relationship which is on the verge of breakdown. All told, these reasons make the US administration look for the ways to avoid signing the final agreement with Iran. 

Susan Elizabeth Rice, the United States National Security Advisor, has held a meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano. After some time Amano started again to accuse Iran of non-compliance. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the commitments Iran made to provide more information on what he called «possible military dimensions» have not been implemented. The head of the United Nations’ nuclear inspection organization declared that Iran had stopped answering the agency’s questions about suspected past efforts to design the components of a bomb. Tehran must provide the data on dual-use technologies, especially the ones related to nuclear weapons. The statement was sounded three weeks before the final date for an agreement to be reached. The fact gives rise to concern. As the accusation was voiced on the United States soil, there is a good reason to believe that the negotiation process may be stymied just before the deadline. Iran has already stated that the Amano’s statement is viewed as another attempt at blackmail initiated by the United States.