July 19, 2008

Iran Columnist Analyzes Factors Leading to Nuclear Talks in Geneva

Text of article by Komail Naqipur under Gozaresh-e Ruz [Report of the Day] column headlined: The talks and suspension calculations, which one is beneficial to the 5+1 group published by Iranian newspaper Iran website on 15 July

The secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and the team of diplomats of our country for nuclear negotiation will land at Geneva airport on 29 Tir 1387 [19 July 2008] under circumstances where it is not necessary for their Western counterparts to bargain with Iran in these negotiations over the condition seeking suspension of uranium enrichment.

Condoleezza Rice at one time contended, the international community was adamant in the face of Iran's proposals and concluded that the Iranians must halt the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium so that subsequently we can talk to them about any negotiations in relation to what Iran had in mind. She spoke clearly about negotiations on the condition of suspension of nuclear enrichment.

After Iran's nuclear dossier reached a deadlock, the 5+1 group, accompanied by the political directors-general of the foreign ministries of the member states of the 5+1 group minus America, were compelled to travel to Tehran and to present to Iran their views on three issues involving the proposed package, a letter drafted by the foreign ministers of the 5+1 group and a non-paper. In the non- paper submitted to Iran, contrary to past practice, there was no mention of a precondition for the suspension of uranium enrichment.

Sean McCormack, the spokesperson for the State Department in Washington, in an attempt to explain the step taken by Condoleezza Rice and other foreign ministers of the member states of the Security Council, told reporters: Iran can take part in the negotiations without initially complying with the demand of America and other states to completely suspend uranium enrichment.

Of course, McCormack, who in the past had always emphasized the suspension of uranium enrichment as a precondition for negotiations, in a U-turn intended to minimize the political damage and impact of agreeing to negotiations without a precondition, described the 19 July 2008 negotiations in Geneva as a part of programmes previously scheduled by the United States of America. In the context of these same programmes, Iran was obliged, in continuation of this course and in subsequent stages, to concur with suspending the process of uranium enrichment.

The remarks expressed by the State Department spokesperson over the scheduling of America's nuclear strategies, and the approach adopted by Iran in this regard, came under circumstances where a few days earlier an informed source at the State Department in Washington had said that negotiations with Iran would continue only in the event that Iran suspended uranium enrichment.

The definite viewpoints expressed by European and American officials concerning the acceptance of [enrichment] suspension as the only condition for holding negotiations, whereby, after Sa'id Jalili replied to the 5+1 group's letter and Javier Solana had indicated that the response made it feasible to continue the negotiations with Iran, most of the news media erroneously concluded that Iran had accepted the condition of enrichment suspension as a requirement for continuing the negotiations.

Subsequently, though, the aspects of this reply, which was treated as confidential by Iranian officials, were somewhat clarified, whereby most of the Western media, quoting their own informed sources and Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, corrected their statements by stating that in Sa'id Jalili's reply to Solana nothing was mentioned about suspending uranium enrichment.

The resumption of negotiations with Iran by the member states of the 5+1 group comes under circumstances where they had got themselves into an impasse by stipulating a suspension precondition, and they could not find a way out of this impasse except by dropping this precondition. In the words of Dr Ahmadinezhad, the suspension of enrichment was an obstacle which the Americans themselves had created through the resolutions, and they had to solve this problem by themselves.

Given all these interpretations, an informed source at the secretariat of the Supreme Council of National Security, pointing out that America, in order to downplay the impact of acceptance of negotiation without preconditions, had announced that these negotiations were taking place on the basis of a scheduled timetable, and said: Iran would act on the basis of its own programme schedule.

The informed source in question went on to say: To hold negotiations without preconditions was one of Iran's long-standing demands which had been described as impossible by European, and particularly by American, officials.

Pointing out that at the present time it was more important for the West to negotiate with Iran than to insist upon suspension of enrichment, this informed source went on to say: The pivotal foundation of our negotiations is based upon the non-paper produced by the 5+1 group, but this does not mean that we should proceed on the basis of the schedule set out in this paper.

Under circumstances where the full content of this paper has not been disclosed by the Iranian authorities, nonetheless, the Financial Times, citing its own informed sources, wrote: One of the strategies set out in this paper for getting the West out of the dispute involving Iran's nuclear programme was that Iran should limit itself to the same number of centrifuges, amounting to almost 4,000 machines, which it has at the moment and not to increase that number and, in return, the West would refrain from ratifying any new resolutions against Iran.

The active diplomacy of the ninth government, and steadfastness in the face of the West's demands and threats, took our country's nuclear dossier from a point where Iran would be threatened with sanctions by the member states of the 5+1 group for operating 20 centrifuges in a vacuum, and ultimately such threats were not carried out, to a point where the same states are proposing that the existing situation should be maintained unchanged (with 4,000 centrifuges remaining operational and Iran continuing the process of uranium enrichment on its own soil).

In the words of senior officials, the continuation of this same strategy by the ninth government and our country's nuclear negotiating team, a strategy which was the outcome of removing the brakes on the nuclear train by the [political] system, can in the near future compel the West to fully accept a nuclear Iran.

Originally published by Iran website, Tehran, in Persian 15 Jul 08.

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