Overtime in Geneva
By Stephen Lendman
At issue isn't Iran's legitimate nuclear program. It's the Islamic Republic's sovereign independence.
It's decades of US/Israeli hostility. It's unrelenting. Whatever emerges from Geneva, it won't materially change.
America and Israel threaten world peace. They remain the main obstacles to peaceful conflict resolution. They deplore it.
They perpetuate violence and instability. They want pro-Western puppet governance everywhere.
Claiming an Iranian nuclear threat is red herring cover for longstanding regime change plans. If Iran had no nuclear program, another pretext would be found.
Ongoing negotiations may prove more subterfuge than real. November 7 and 8 talks followed many earlier rounds.
Expected Friday resolution didn't materialize. It's not surprising. Talks continue.
Israel isn't physically present in Geneva. It's agenda very much is. Behind the scenes Israeli Lobby pressure is intense.
AIPAC practically owns Congress. It wants sanctions stiffened. It wants Iran's government toppled. It wants war if other methods fail. It wants what's entirely unacceptable.
Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani is a former Islamic Consultative Assembly deputy speaker. He was a member of the Third Assembly of Experts.
He knows America and Israel can't be trusted. He knows they're up to no good. On Friday, he said:
"It's harmful to underestimate the enemy because they do nothing other than play tricks. Our enemy would not rest even for a moment."
"If we underestimate the enemy we will definitely get hurt.
The US secretary of state has pledged to Netanyahu that he will not do a bad deal with Iran."
"It means that they will not agree to an agreement that is harmful for them, which means they will not make a good deal with Iran."
"I don't think the talks will bear fruit. They are not going to stop their enmity with us."
Any resolution reached in Geneva at best would accomplish little. It would be preliminary. It would be fragile. It would leave Iran stuck in uncertainty.
Lots more negotiating rounds would follow. Many previous ones failed. Public optimism this time belies reality.
Putting on a brave face goes with the territory. Calling talks constructive is code language. It means little was accomplished.
It means resolution satisfying both sides remains elusive. It means decades of US/Israeli hostility won't end.
On Friday, senior Iranian negotiator Majid Takht Ravanchi said a draft agreement was prepared. It's being discussed. It's subject to revision. Sticking points remain.
According to Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi, both sides are resolved to endorse a final draft.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif insists Iran won't relinquish its legitimate nuclear rights.
Araqchi called uranium enrichment important. It's "our redline," he stressed. At the same time, its size, form, and dimensions could be modified. Doing so won't materially change Iran's program.
Confidence building has miles to go. Achieving it remains more illusion than reality. Decades of anti-Iranian hostility aren't easily changed.
On Friday, John Kerry said:
"I want to emphasize. There is not an agreement at this point in time."
"There are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved."
"I don't think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed."
"We continued to make progress as we worked to narrow the gaps. There is more work to do. The meetings will resume (Saturday) morning."
On November 9, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabrius said:
"As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude" talks easily.
"We are for an agreement, that's clear. But the agreement has got to be serious and credible. The initial text made progress but not enough. France won't accept 'a sucker's deal.' "
British Foreign Secretary William Hague added:
"There are still issues to resolve. We may have to continue the talks in the coming weeks building on the progress that was made in this round."
"We have not got a deal" so far. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived to join talks. So did Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.
On November 8, The New York Times headlined "Roadblocks Remain as Officials Work Toward Iranian Nuclear Pact," saying:
Negotiators "quit shortly before midnight" on Friday. Sticky issues remain unresolved.
Contentious ones include Iran's Arak reactor, its "stockpile of enriched uranium, and how much relief to give Iran from punishing economic sanctions."
Little is possible without congressional approval. Ravanchi said Iran wants significant relief for its banking and oil sectors. Getting it is another matter.
Ed Royce (R. CA) chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Instead of toughening sanctions to get meaningful and lasting concessions, the Obama administration looks to be settling for interim and reversible steps," he said.
"A partial freeze of enrichment, as we're hearing, is not a freeze."
According to Senator Mark Kirk (R. IL):
"The agreement would leave Iran's nuclear infrastructure in place while undermining the sanctions pressure we worked so hard to build."
"In short, it will increase the likelihood of war..."
On November 7, Reuters headlined "US sanctions threat hangs over Iran talks in Geneva." Congressional hardliners talk tough. They're not alone.
"Many lawmakers, including several of Obama's fellow Democrats, believe that tough sanctions brought Tehran to the negotiating table and insist that more are needed to discourage it from developing a nuclear bomb," said Reuters.
According to Senator Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D. NJ):
"I think Iran has in its power to decide whether or not it faces any more sanctions or whether or not it gets any relief from existing sanctions."
"I just don't understand a negotiating posture that suggests that we should stop pursuing a course of action that at least brought Iran to the table while they continue to enrich."
The Senate Banking Committee has sanctions imposing authority. It can recommend removing them.
Tim Johnson (D. SD) chairs it. He's considering stiffer sanctions.
"I don't know the outcome of negotiations now under way in Geneva, and I plan to wait to hear any results of those talks from our negotiators before making a final decision," he said.
On July 31, House members passed the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act. They did so overwhelmingly. They approved more sanctions.
They target Iran's oil, automotive, mining, construction and engineering sectors. Nations and companies maintaining commercial ties are penalized.
In principle, they're denied US market access. Enforcement follow-through is another matter. Major countries like China and India are unaffected. So are others.
Depending on what emerges from Geneva, Senate imposed stiffer sanctions may or may not follow. Majorities in both houses oppose removing ones in place.
According to House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R. TX):
"The United States must remain firm against Iran and should not lift any sanctions until the the world can verify that the ayatollah has fully dismantled his country's nuclear weapons program."
It bears repeating. Sovereign independent Iran is targeted. Its alleged (nonexistent) nuclear weapons program is a red herring.
Details of a proposed deal remain to be announced. According to Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R. IL):
"You're going to see the dam break loose" once they're known. "The White House is going to take a lot of friendly fire."
Rep. Eliot Engel (D. NY) added:
"I am deeply troubled by reports that such an agreement may not require Tehran to halt its enrichment efforts."
"I forcefully reject any notion that Iran has a 'right' to enrichment, a view which the administration has publicly articulated on numerous occasions."
Senator Ted Cruz (R. TX) called what's reported about a deal "dangerous for America."
Netanyahu wants no concessions offered. He calls any deal a bad one. On Friday, Obama called him. He updated him on talks. He reassured him about his commitment to hang tough.
Washington's Gulf allies expressed concern. They oppose diplomacy. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE benefit from Iran's isolation. According to a senior unnamed Arab official:
"A deal with Iran would be like discovering your partner of many years is cheating on you with someone he or she claims they hate."
A US official involved in Geneva talks said:
"We very much understand the anxieties, the concerns, the security interests that the Gulf states have. That's why we stay in very close consultation with them in this regard."
According to a Western diplomat, sanctions relief is "key." Iran wants enough to matter. Tokenism is unacceptable.
Conflict resolution requires ending decades of Iranian isolation. Lifting lawless sanctions is essential.
So is respecting Iran's legitimate nuclear program. Normalizing relations overall matters most.
Long-suffering Iranians deserve a clear path toward achieving it. They deserve that much and more.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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