by Stephen Lendman
Iran negotiates in good faith. Dealing with rogue partners isn't easy. Reports suggest day one talks went well. An unnamed Iranian delegation source said:
"The atmosphere dominating the meeting was positive and constructive and the negotiations will continue tomorrow morning."
"Both sides showed a serious attitude during the meeting and negotiations and several questions and answers were asked and answered face-to-face."
Iran's powerpoint presentation explained a three-stage proposal. Implementation would last six months to a year. Details remain confidential until an agreement is reached.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs
Seyed Abbas Araqchi expects more talks within weeks. He said:
"Unlike the previous meetings that every side entered the negotiations to attain its own goals this time we will try to design a common goal then move toward it."
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi said:
"Despite the fact that we don't accept the basics of the westerners' concerns and don't assume them to be fair, we can obviate them using international mechanisms, treaties and laws and regulations."
"We can obviate these concerns through their own ways, which is giving the necessary guarantees for non-diversion and they should recognize our rights" in return."
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif heads Iran's delegation. "Our basis in the negotiations is not giving and taking concessions," he stressed.
It's agreeing on what satisfies both sides. Doing so won't be easy. Past efforts failed. It remains to be seen what happens this time. Odds appear long at best.
Iranian television said state negotiators discussed limiting uranium enrichment. Willingness was expressed to discuss an additional protocol proposal for snap nuclear facility inspections.
Following Wednesday's talks, a joint statement will be released. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif will hold separate press conferences.
Israel remains hardline. International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz compared ongoing talks to 1938 Munich, saying:
"We view the nuclear talks in Geneva with hope and with concern. We see the worrying signs and we don't want Geneva 2013 to turn into Munich 1938."
An Israeli security cabinet statement said:
"Iran believes it can get by with cosmetic concessions that would not significantly impede its path to developing nuclear weapons."
"Concessions that could be reversed in weeks. In exchange, Iran demands an easing of the sanctions, which have taken years to put in place."
P5 + 1 countries should "reject Iran's attempts to reach a deal that would leave it with the capability to develop nuclear weapons."
"Iran claims that it supposedly has the 'right to enrich.' But a country that regularly deceives the international community, that violates UN Security Council resolutions has no such right."
Israel demands Iran cease its legitimate nuclear enrichment entirely. It wants all enriched uranium removed from its territory.
It wants Iran's heavily protected underground facilities dismantled. It wants heavy water Arak reactor construction halted.
Israel's demands are way over-the-top. No nation would agree. Iran's program is entirely peaceful. Nothing suggests otherwise.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) exerts enormous influence in Washington. Its members include a rogue's gallery of neocon hawks.
Maseh Zarif is AEI's "Critical Threats Project" research manager. On October 15, he headlined "Opening the door to a bad Iranian nuclear deal."
His entire article was a litany of lies. He falsely claimed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "made the strategic decision to develop nuclear weapons capability some time ago."
No evidence whatever suggests it. Iran complies fully with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty provisions. Not according to Zarif.
"Iran's obvious intent (is) to deceive and obfuscate," he claims.
It's "attempting to scope negotiations over its nuclear program as narrowly as possible."
"It is sticking to its refusal to acknowledge its past and recent weaponization-related work and demanding that its hollow claims that its program has been exclusively peaceful be accepted."
"A deal, as it is currently being framed and discussed, would fall short of the verified suspension and dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons program."
"It would allow Tehran to retain and continue developing its fissile material production capability and its delivery systems and effectively grant it a pass on its weaponization-related activities."
"It will put Iran's leaders in a position to rapidly cross the nuclear threshold at a time of their choosing, and it should be recognized for the bad deal that it is."
These type comments are spurious. They're reprehensible. They carry weight. They influence US foreign policy.
Nothing do more than Israeli Lobby pressure. AIPAC is its best known member. Washington bows to its will.
It's militantly hostile to Iran. On October 15, it headlined "Senators: Keep Pressure on Iran."
On October 11, 10 Republican and Democrat senators wrote Obama, saying in part:
"As representatives of the P5+1 and the Iranian government prepare to enter another round of negotiations to verifiably end Iran's nuclear weapon program, we reiterate the four strategic elements articulated by 76 Senators to you on August 2, 2013 necessary to achieve resolution of the nuclear issue: (1) an explicit and continuing message that we will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, (2) a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations by Iran, (3) the maintenance and toughening of sanctions, and (4) a convincing threat of the use of force."
"Iran's first confidence-building action should be full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, fulfillment of its responsibilities under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and implementation of all Resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program, to include immediate suspension of all enrichment activity."
"(W)e reaffirm that a credible military threat remains on the table and we underscore the imperative that the current sanctions be maintained aggressively, and call on you to increase pressure through sanctions already in place."
"As we previously cautioned, Iran has historically used negotiations to affect progress on its nuclear weapons program."
"We must continue to realistically evaluate Iranian intentions, and we reiterate that the centrifuges cannot be allowed to continue spinning."
"We reject Iranian statements that Iran should be able to continue enrichment in its own territory."
"We remind you that the US Department of State has characterized Iran as 'the most active state sponsor of terrorism' and to be sure, verifiable dismantlement of the Iranian nuclear weapons program will not resolve the Iranian government's deplorable abuse of basic human rights, denial of basic civil freedoms, or its ongoing activities that seek to destabilize the region."
These type comments are irresponsible, abhorrent, totally out of line, and predictable. They repeat with disturbing regularity. They show what enormous challenges Iran faces.
Good faith requires it on both sides. Washington offers none. Softer Obama rhetoric conceals longstanding hardline intentions.
America demands Iran agree unconditionally to its demands. They're unreasonable. They're over-the-top.
They reflect what no responsible government would accept. It bodes ill for what lies ahead. Anything positive will surprise.
On October 15, Foreign Policy magazine contributors Yochi Dreazen and John Hudson headlined "Democrats, AIPAC Jeopardize Iran Talks," saying:
A "sizable bloc of Democratic lawmakers made clear (their intentions to) break with the White House and fight any effort to lift the current sanctions on Tehran."
In other words, no matter what Iran proposes, it's not good enough. Good faith doesn't matter.
AIPAC "promised to do everything in its power to keep the punitive (sanctions) in place."
According to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D. NY):
"If the president were to ask for a lifting of existing sanctions it would be extremely difficult in the House and Senate to support that."
When asked about lifting sanctions, Senator Bob Casey (D. PA) said:
"I'd say no. They've got a long way to go to demonstrate the kind of credibility that would lead us to believe we can move in a conciliatory direction."
"And sanctions are what has strengthened the administration's hand."
Senator Ed Markey (D. MA) said Washington "should not relax the sanctions one inch while Iran's intentions are still unknown."
Senator Patty Murray (D. WA) added:
"The intent of sanctions is to force Iran to halt and dismantle its nuclear weapons program."
She knows, or should know, no such program exists. Annual US intelligence assessments say so.
Congressional members are briefed. It doesn't matter. They remain extremely hostile to Iran.
They yield to AIPAC pressure. They're able to impose or stiffen sanctions on their own.
National Iranian American Council president Trita Parsi lobbies on behalf of Iranian Americans.
Iran won't accept unreasonable demands to halt its legitimate nuclear activities. Nor should it.
"The bar being set by the senators is wholly unrealistic. To say that existing sanctions won't be lifted is a non-starter."
AIPAC's influence is virulent. It's pernicious. During its annual conference months earlier, it flooded Capitol Hill with volunteers.
They personally lobbied home state lawmakers. They demanded continued anti-Iranian toughness.
They wrote Obama demanding the same. According to Foreign Policy:
"Iran is one of the few issues that bind Democrats and Republicans, so AIPAC is in some ways preaching to the choir."
Doing so keeps its message front and center. Lawmakers are cowed to remember. Failure assures a stiff primary challenge next election.
Following Tuesday's talks, an unnamed Western diplomat said:
"Are we there yet? No, but we need to keep talking."
Iran wants sanctions relief. It has every right to expect it. It's negotiating fairly. It wants like treatment in return. It wants its legitimate nuclear rights respected.
It wants Western hostility ended. It wants long denied normalized relations restored.
It wants no further US war threats. Eighty million Iranians have a right to expect it. Don't expect Washington or Israel to oblige them.
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.
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