Wednesday, June 27, 2012

US Hardens Stance In Iran Nuclear Talks

"... Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator did express willingness to discuss one key step requested by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1): stopping enrichment of uranium to 20% U-235, the isotope that gives uranium its explosive power.The western members of the P5+1 insisted, however, that Iran had to meet all three conditions contained in their proposal: stop 20% enrichment, ship out a stockpile of more than 100 kilograms of 20%-enriched uranium and close Fordo, a fortified enrichment facility built into a mountain near Qom.
That stance has led some P5+1 members to conclude that the United States hardened its position in Moscow compared to two earlier sessions in Baghdad and Istanbul...
What led to the perceived hardening of the US position in Moscow? One P5+1 nation's diplomat surmised that the US was reacting to the perceived “stubbornness” of chief Iran nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. Prospects for compromise on the terms of an interim deal also seem to be increasingly constrained by a number of factors, including western skepticism that Iran is serious about negotiations and domestic political concerns, as well as Israeli pressure not to agree to a small deal that might reduce momentum for further economic sanctions.
Jalili, in Moscow, proposed a five-point plain that included international recognition of Iran’s “inalienable right to enrichment” in exchange for Iran’s commitment to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agreement to “operationalize” the Supreme Leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons. Iran also sought the lifting of both UN and unilateral sanctions in return for cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on its longstanding questions regarding suspected possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. A fourth point included cooperation on nuclear safety and the provision of modern light water reactors. The fifth plank, according to a diplomatic source, was for Iranian inclusion in talks on regional security issues, including Syria and Bahrain.
The Iranian proposal was also seen as an overreach by all P5+1 members, including the two delegations Iran usually sees as more sympathetic, the Russian and Chinese. (China’s delegation was judged not to be very active in Moscow, perhaps because China’s chief negotiator couldn’t come and was substituted by his deputy, Le Yucheng.)
“The Iranian delegation arrived well-prepared and presented a more detailed proposal … compared to previous rounds,” Russian diplomats assessed of Moscow. But “there was no movement towards a compromise … It was clear that the [P5+1] package was not acceptable to Iran.” Iranian pressure for an experts meeting “was interpreted as an Iranian attempt to resolve the issue, but also to buy more time.”
“Both sides are looking to buy time, but for entirely different reasons,” the ICG’s Vaez said. “The West appears to be waiting for the new onerous sanctions to sink in and render Iran more amenable to compromise. In mirror image, Iran seemingly believes that President Obama will be in a better position to offer genuine concessions after reelection.”
So-called technical experts from the P5+1 and Iran are due to meet in Istanbul on July 3.
The US team to the Istanbul talks will be led by Bob Einhorn, the State Department Iran sanctions czar and a veteran nonproliferation expert, a US official told Al-Monitor Tuesday. Iran's team may be led by Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Iran experts heard, noting that had not yet been confirmed."

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