Iranian file – Moscow : another useless summit?

Varianta în limba română poate fi citită pe noul site al PPW.

Lately, it seems to become common as the leaders of the world to meet in the many and various summits just to change their contradictory opinions and, of course, stoically to smile at the group photo.

In this way things are showed also in long discussions on the Iranian file, and meeting in Baghdad was no exception. From EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton found (after a two-day meeting in Baghdad, where six world powers* holding nuclear talks with Iran) that was achieved some common ground despite remaining differences. Ashton said that another round of negotiations will take place in Russia Federation. “We will maintain intensive contacts with our Iranian counterparts to prepare a further meeting in Moscow,” she told a news conference in Baghdad. The next meeting, the third in the latest round of talks that began in Istanbul last month, will be held in Moscow on June 18-19.

So, something has been achieved. Something that can not be defined, because it is part of the negotiation process, say officials if are asked to be more specific. And if you compare the statements of those involved realize that there are real works of art in words which say nothing concrete. Lets take a look about: “The two sides’ commitment to diplomacy in the absence of any clear agreement is a positive sign,” said Ali Vaez, Iran expert at the International Crisis Group think-tank. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there would be no let up in sanctions against Iran, even as talks continue. “As we lay the groundwork for these talks, we will keep up the pressure as part of our dual-track approach,” she told reporters in Washington hours after the talks ended in Baghdad. “All of our sanctions will remain in place and continue to move forward during this period.” Western powers insist Tehran must first shut down enrichment activities before sanctions can be eased. In reply, the Islamic Republic has repeatedly ruled out suspending all enrichment as called for by several U.N. Security Council resolutions, saying nuclear energy is a matter of national sovereignty and pride in technological progress.

What they want ?

The powers want Iran to send its more highly refined uranium abroad and close an underground plant devoted to 20 percent enrichment which is largely invulnerable to air strikes. In return, the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany have offered fuel to keep Iran’s medical isotope reactor running, assistance in nuclear safety and an end to an embargo on spare parts for Iran’s ageing civilian aircraft. The six powers were going to try to advance the talks “as fast as we can”. But it is too early to talk about technical level or expert meetings because the political issues still needed to be clarified. EU spokesman Michael Mann told VOA the world powers presented a “clear” proposal calling on Iran to address international concerns about its nuclear program in return for “reciprocal measures” that the six-nation group believes will be attractive to Tehran. He said it is important for Iran to engage in the negotiations “seriously.”

 What Iran wants ?

Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defense official, predicted that Iran would take a conciliatory tack at the Baghdad talks while not abandoning its goal of becoming a nuclear power. “They will be willing to show what appears to be flexibility as long as it doesn’t affect their strategic direction, meaning that they will be able to develop nuclear weapons if that decision is made,” Gilad told Army Radio. More, “It appears that the Iranians are trying to reach a ‘technical agreement’ which will create the impression of progress in the talks, in order to remove some of the pressure before the talks tomorrow in Baghdad (and) put off the intensification of sanctions,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a statement.

Iran needs nuclear talks to stabilize currency. But Iranian officials have labored to insist that they do not need a nuclear agreement with the international community and that their economy can survive more punishment. But one look at the recent gyrations of Iran’s currency suggests otherwise. The rial tanked early this year after the Barack Obama administration signed a law barring US banks from any dealings with foreign banks that do business with Iran’s Central Bank. The currency sank on so-called unofficial markets to 20,000 to the dollar — half what it was a year ago — before stabilizing at about 16,000 after a new round of nuclear talks in Istanbul in April.

It is well to remember that meeting in Moscow in June comes as a preamble to other sanctions. European sanctions to block Iran’s economically vital oil exports are to take force in July and Israel has mooted military action. A defiant Iran, which denies any ambition to acquire atom bombs, has threatened reprisals and oil prices have risen on fear of a new Middle East war hitting a wobbly world economy. The US official said sanctions coming into effect in coming weeks would increase leverage on Iran in the negotiations. “Maximum pressure is not yet being felt by Iran,” the official said, adding there were many other potential sanctions that remained to be employed.

*The world powers include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (UK, China, Russia, France, United States) plus Germany – known as P5+1.

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