Nuclear Talks Resume in Geneva
By Stephen Lendman
On December 30, Iran and P5+1 nations resumed negotiations. It's the third round since early November. Focus is on implementing Geneva agreed on terms.
Iran's Foreign Ministry political and international affairs director general, Hamid Baeidinejad, heads Tehran's delegation. It includes nuclear, banking, oil and transportation sector representatives.
EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton's aid, Stephen Clement, heads the P5+1 delegation.
On December 12, Obama breached Geneva. He unilaterally imposed new sanctions. He ordered the Treasury and State Department to implement them.
He circumvented Congress. He did so by executive order. He targeted Iranian, Asian and European companies, as well as individuals connected to them.
He violated the letter and spirit of Geneva. He claimed otherwise. At issue is whether he really wants a permanent agreement once the interim one expires in six months.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif strongly objected, saying:
"The Americans have taken improper measures in the last few days, and we have given the appropriate response to them after considering all aspects of the issue."
He said Tehran will continue talks in good faith. "(W)e will, of course, show proper, well-assessed, targeted and smart reaction to any improper and unconstructive measure," he stressed.
On Friday, he added:
"Iran will decide the level of enrichment according to its needs for different (civilian) purposes. Only details of the enrichment are negotiable."
Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said nuclear talks resumed Monday. They aim "to define modalities for implementing" Geneva agreed on terms.
Deciding a framework and timeline will be discussed. Talks so far progressed slowly. Both sides have different "interpretations" of what appeared to be settled on November 24.
Disagreements need to be resolved. Negotiating with Washington is painful at best. America has a long disturbing history. Treaties, conventions and other agreements are routinely violated.
Obama's mid-December Geneva breach bodes ill for what's ahead. Iran has much cause for concern. It made major concessions. It got little in return.
Given longstanding US duplicity, it may end up back at square one. It may happen before interim agreement terms expire.
Obama's alleged outreach may be fake. It may be knife in the back betrayal. It's the American way.
Washington may torpedo final agreement resolution. Expect Iran to be blamed if it happens. Blaming victims is longstanding US policy. Complicit partners do the same thing.
Israel is going all out to subvert Geneva. AIPAC is doing it more discretely. Democrat and Republican congressional hardliners want more sanctions imposed.
Pending Senate legislation if enacted would do so. Congressional action would scuttle Geneva. Foreign Minister Zarif said doing so means the "entire deal is dead."
"We do not like to negotiate under duress," he said. If Congress adopts (new) sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States."
"We know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification."
"I have a parliament. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail."
"But if we start doing that, I don't think that we will be getting anywhere."
Senior Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Commission parliament member Esmayeel Kowsari reacted sharply to Obama rating chances for a permanent deal "50 - 50" at best.
"My goal is to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon," he said. He knows full well Tehran's program is peaceful. It has no military component. He suggests otherwise.
For nearly 35 years, Washington spurned good faith Iranian rapprochement efforts. Does Obama plan continuing old policy?
Is subverting Geneva planned? Is he working quietly with Congress to do so? Are Israel's dirty hands involved? Is a pretext being created to blame on Iran?
Confidence building steps aren't possible if one side subverts them. Zarif and Catherine Ashton plan continued one-on-one 2014 talks toward implementing a final agreement.
It remains to be seen whether one side's resolve is the other's duplicity. Ashton represents EU countries. They're largely in lockstep with US/Israeli Iranian policy.
It's been hostile for decades. It's hard imagining nuclear talks since November changed things. Congress and Israel remain hardline.
Obama can't be trusted. He lost credibility long ago. His word isn't his bond. He says one thing. He does another. It happens repeatedly. Sincere outreach isn't his long suit. Nor is truth-telling.
Iran is hopeful. At the same time, it's justifiably wary. It has good reason to doubt America's intentions. It's been betrayed so many times before. Is this time different? Washington has all the proving to do.
Ahead of talks resuming on December 30, Iranian lawmakers drafted new legislation. It authorizes enriching uranium to 60%. It does so if P5+1 nations breach Geneva.
Former Iranian Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/chief nuclear negotiator Fereidoun Abbasi stressed no plans to enrich above 20%. Geneva terms require not doing so above 5%.
Iranian naval lieutenant commander for technical affairs Rear Admiral Abbas Zamini said work on producing super heavy-powered submarines continues.
"Right now, we are at the initial phases," he said. Higher grade enriched uranium is needed to power them.
According to Zamini, all countries may legitimately pursue this technology. They're legally allowed to use highly enriched uranium for civilian purposes. So is Iran.
On December 30, Iran's Human Rights Council secretary Mohammad Javad Larijani criticized EU parliamentarians.
A delegation visited Iran. Members met secretly with two Iranian dissidents. They did so in Greece's embassy. According to Larijani:
"The European delegation didn't even show the minimum respect for the rules of diplomatic behavior and held a meeting with sedition activists and convicts and sympathized with them."
"The European delegation's behavior shows that the westerners have not changed their policy towards Iran."
EU parliamentarians met with attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh and film director Jafar Panahi. They were convicted of involvement in days of disruptive street protests. They followed Iran's 2009 presidential election.
Ahmadinejad won by a landslide. He got 62.63% of the vote. He did so legitimately. He bested his nearest rival nearly two to one.
It didn't surprise. Independent pre-election polls predicted he'd win overwhelmingly. Post-election protests erupted anyway.
Washington's dirty hands choreographed them. Destabilizing independent governments is longstanding US policy. Anti-government Iranians were enlisted to cause trouble.
Congress approved funding to do so. CIA elements were involved. Their best efforts failed. Iranian security forces foiled them.
So did ordinary Iranians. They later turned out en masse. They did so supportively. They overwhelmed opposition demonstrations. They demanded disruptive elements be held accountable.
Iran later learned of Washington's involvement. So was Britain and other European countries. It was reminiscent of 1953.
CIA operative/Theodore Roosevelt's grandson/FDR's cousin Kermit Roosevelt engineered the Agency's first coup.
Democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was ousted. A generation of Reza Shah Pahlavi repression followed.
Iranians have long memories. They've got good reason to challenge US intentions. They're unsympathetic to their own people betraying them.
EU officials meeting covertly with anti-Iranian criminals bodes ill for what's ahead. Business as usual seems more likely.
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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