Will «Big Six» Lose Historic Opportunity to Close Iran’s Nuclear Dossier?

Will «Big Six» Lose Historic Opportunity to Close Iran’s Nuclear Dossier?

The next round of talks on Iran’s nuclear program is scheduled on March 26 - the day US State Secretary John Kerry is to meet his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Lausanne, Switzerland. The chances for reaching an agreement till the end of March are bleak. The document will hardly be ready for signing before July 30 – the announced deadline for talks. The historic opportunity to close the Iranian dossier could be missed. That’s what US President Obama is talking about. Having lost his grip on Iran’s policy, the US President is drifting along unable to influence the development of situation. 

In the United States President Obama is called «dangerous and naive dilettante» whose ambitions undermine the national security of the country and its allies. On March 23, 367 House lawmakers signed an open letter to President Barack Obama warning him that any nuclear deal with Tehran will effectively require congressional approval for implementation to prevent any chance of going nuclear. The document is signed by bipartisan majority of House lawmakers exceeding two thirds of votes needed to override a presidential veto, if need be. It means Obama has lost the support of his own party. Democrats are ready to join Republicans in their opposition to lifting the sanctions. The Capitol Hill hopes Iran will find the agreement conditions unacceptable and the negotiation process will be stymied.

The lawmakers are acquainted with the March 20 statement released by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. He said that sanctions relief must be part of any nuclear agreement. As he put it, "Removal of sanctions is a part of the negotiations and not their result; therefore, as the honorable president (Rouhani) has clearly stated, the sanctions should be removed immediately after the agreement». Referring to remarks from U.S. lawmakers that an agreement could be reversible, the spiritual leader said, «They thought that by the crippling sanctions the people will stage protest against the government, so they engineered the sanctions to divide the people and the government». In his comments on the Obama’s Nowrouz message, Ayatollah Khomenei criticized the US stance on the issue. According to him, Iran does not oppose the idea of agreement but it rejects pressure. He emphasized that, «We will not negotiate with the US on domestic, regional and arms issues at all since the US policy in the region is based on stirring insecurity and confrontation with the regional states». «It is the United States administration that is in dire need of nuclear talks and not Iran», the spiritual leader added.

Indeed, the bilateral relationship is not centered on the nuclear issue only. To great extent the regional stability depends on Iran. It is a leading power in the Middle East. Iran stands up to the threat coming from the Islamic State. It’s impossible to find a solution to the Syria’s crisis without Tehran. For instance, the fate of Iraq greatly depends on Iran. The main threat to the United States military deployed in the region is posed by the rivalry between the Persian Gulf monarchies and Iran. America wants the regional influence of Iran weakened. Actually, that’s what Americans have been doing since the revolution in Iran took place 36 years ago. Israel and Saudi Arabia remain to be the leading regional allies of United States. They represent the main forces opposing the agreement between P5+1 and Tehran. With sanctions lifted and international isolation ended, Iran becomes a regional superpower. The population of Iranians has reached 80 million. The country is rich in minerals. Iran is a leading regional economy and military power. It can rapidly leave the regional competitors far behind. The nuclear program has no direct relation to it. Iran does not want to go nuclear. The nuclear program is important because Iran believes that the peaceful use of nuclear energy is an inalienable legitimate right of all sovereign States. All the differences with the international community should be resolved at the round table. Technical parameters should be in focus. The priority should be given to assessments of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN agency in charge of nuclear inspections, not intelligence reports submitted by the Central Intelligence Agency or Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel. 

Americans assumed the leading role at the nuclear talks pushing the International Atomic Energy Agency to the sidelines. Routine checks of Iranian nuclear facilities are not conducted anymore, the opinion of the organization’s experts is not taken into account as the negotiations between P5+1 and Iran proceed. The tough opposition to the nuclear deal in US Congress made Obama remember the International Atomic Energy Agency existed. The 2015 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference took place March 23 and 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. It brought together over 800 experts and officials from more than 45 countries and international organizations to discuss emerging trends in nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, deterrence, and nuclear energy. Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, addressed the conference saying his organization is unable to ensure that all of Iran’s nuclear material is intended for peaceful purpose. «We are still not in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is [for a] peaceful purpose,» he told the participants. «Progress has been very limited in clarifying issues with possible military dimensions». According to him, the organization could not provide evidence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program. If the head of International Atomic Energy Agency cannot do it, then who can? US Congress? 

The West European members of the «big six» interpret the position of the Agency differently. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond talks about «Certain points are yet to be resolved». France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says that his country wants an agreement over Iran's nuclear program that was sufficiently robust to guarantee that Tehran could not acquire an atomic bomb. "France wants an agreement, but a robust one that really guarantees that Iran can have access to civilian nuclear power, but not the atomic bomb," Fabius told Europe 1 radio on March 21. The both ministers say they don’t want a «bad deal». After meeting with his British, French and US opposite numbers on March 21, Federal Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier issued a statement that reads, «We are not talking about a choice between a good and a bad agreement. What we need from the negotiations is a reasonable outcome which prevents Iran from gaining access to nuclear weapons technology comprehensively, durably and verifiably». 

Iran has already agreed to submit its program to monitoring. The International Atomic Energy Agency is to exercise the control without changing the Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Iran has given its consent. What else is needed to provide evidence? Now the Agency is to do its routine job. The results should be taken into consideration by international community, first of all by the United States of America, France, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the states that oppose an agreement so strongly. 

Tags: IAEA  Iran  Middle East  US  Zarif