by Stephen Lendman
November 7 and 8 nuclear talks at most may offer Iran modest temporary relief in return for major concessions.
How they're presented remains to be seen. How they're implemented is another matter.
Longstanding anti-Iranian hostility remains unresolved. Washington wants it that way. So does Israel.
Netanyahu wants no concessions offered. He calls any deal a bad one. It's "very dangerous for peace and the international community," he claims. It's hard imagining more convoluted thinking.
Temporary modest relief, if offered, is too little. Reports suggest Washington may unfreeze a portion of billions of dollars of Iranian assets held in foreign banks. It may allow some international trade.
In return, reports say stiff demands require Iran to halt uranium enrichment to 20%, render most of its nuclear fuel unusable, agree not to use high speed IR-2 centrifuges, and not activate its Arak facility when completed.
Details aren't finalized. Terms discussed are temporary. They represent step one along a long road toward resolving longstanding anti-Iranian hostility.
John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Britain's William Hague and Germany's Guido Westerwelle arrived in Geneva. They participated in Friday talks.
A November 8 State Department statement said:
"In an effort to help narrow the differences in negotiations, Secretary Kerry will travel to Geneva, Switzerland today at the invitation of EU High Representative Ashton to hold a trilateral meeting with High Representative Ashton and Foreign Minister Zarif on the margins of the P5+1 negotiations."
On arrival, Fabius said "(t)here has been progress, but nothing is hard and fast yet." Late afternoon Friday Geneva time, Kerry added:
"I want to emphasize there is not an agreement at this point. I don't think anybody should mistake that there are some important gaps that have to be closed."
Precisely what emerges remains to be seen. Most important is what follows.
Agreements are easily broken. Washington's history reflects duplicity. It's word isn't its bond. Hold the cheers.
Headlines may belie reality. US rapprochement with Iran isn't likely. Why after all these years? Why now?
Why after five years of deep-seated Obama administration hostility? Why in an administration infested with hardliners? Why despite a change in Iranian leadership?
Positive reports overstate reality. What's given can easily be taken away. America's so-called deal is reversible. Ahead of arriving in Geneva, John Kerry said:
"We are asking them to step up and provide a complete freeze over where they are today. Iran knows that if they don't meet the standards of the international community, the sanctions could be increased and even worse."
Iran's good intentions may not matter. Washington and Israel are obstacles. On November 8, Haaretz headlined "Netanyahu warns Kerry: Israel not bound by any deal between Iran and West."
They met in Jerusalem. They did so before Kerry left for Geneva. Netanyahu said "Israel utterly rejects" a deal. It's "not obliged" to respect one.
It'll "do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people." Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. Israel and Western officials know it. They claim otherwise.
On Wednesday, Obama said negotiations "are not about easing sanctions. (They're) about how Iran begins to meet its international obligations and provide assurances not just to us but to the entire world."
An administration spokesperson said:
"In the months since the Iranian election, we have continued to pursue our unwavering goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
"We have not let up on vigorous sanctions enforcement one iota."
"This includes new designations of sanctions evaders as well as other steps to address potential sanctions evasion."
Anti-Iranian organizations are masters at inventing nonexistent threats.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) calls itself "the most influential group on the issue of US-Israel military relations."
It supports Israel's worst crimes. It's in lockstep with its hegemonic regional agenda.
Its Iran Task Force includes a rogue's gallery of members. Its October 29 Los Angeles Times op-ed headlined "How to negotiate with Iran," saying:
"The most pressing national security threat facing the United States remains preventing a nuclear-capable Iran."
Washington "should only pursue an agreement within certain parameters:"
(1) "Iran must resolve outstanding international concerns."
(2) It must "suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities."
(3) "(D)eny Iran nuclear weapons capability." Doing so involves severely restricting its legitimate operations.
(4) Mandate "strict inspections."
(5) Negotiate "from a position of strength." Doing so requires intensified sanctions, leaving open a military option, "initiat(ing) new military deployments," and supporting "Israeli military action if conducted."
(6) Don't "waste time. Iran will likely attain an undetectable nuclear capability by mid-2014, and perhaps earlier."
Imposing "a strict deadline for talks can dissuade Iran from using diplomacy as a cover while sprinting for the bomb, and reassure Israel so it does not feel compelled to act alone."
Negotiators "must walk away from any agreement" deviating from the above terms.
An earlier JINSA commentary called sanctions "dangerously ineffective." It urged military force at an "optimal time regardless of elections or other political considerations."
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) exerts enormous influence in Washington. It's pro-business, pro-war and pro-unchallenged US dominance. It's militantly anti-Iranian.
Danielle Pletka is vice president for foreign and defense studies. On November 7, she headlined "A Lousy Iran Deal," asking:
"What's a 'modest rollback' exactly? How much 'suspension' is suspension?" Why isn't a total "freeze" imposed?
"What will the Iranians have given? Nothing. Every single offer reportedly out there from the Iranians is less than what was offered mere months ago in earlier negotiations."
"In exchange, every concession contemplated by the Obama team is more than what was offered in earlier negotiations. Who's the better negotiator here? Did you have any doubt?"
Reports suggest Washington demands major concessions. In return, Iran appears being offered modest, temporary relief at best.
Obama has little wiggle room on congressionally imposed sanctions. He can't stop stiffer ones if enacted. They'll stick with a virtual two-thirds or greater majority in both houses assured to pass them.
Congressional hardliners from both parties want them. Perhaps they'll be forthcoming regardless of Geneva's outcome.
Imposing them will unravel whatever is agreed on. Maybe Obama plans it that way. He can say we tried. We failed. He'll blame Iran for US duplicity. It won't surprise.
Sanctions imposed under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) are at Obama's discretion. They include frozen Iranian assets.
He can lift them all with a stoke of his pen. Doing so would send an important signal. Unfreezing a modest amount temporarily is much different.
It's tokenism. It can be withdrawn with the same pen stroke. It can happen without warning. It can be with no justification.
According to Pletka, Iranian concessions merely slow its nuclear program. She wants significant rollback.
"(S)low down is fine with Iran," she says, "because it has EVERYTHING IT NEEDS FOR A NUCLEAR WEAPON, or even several."
What once was "a demand to end (its) entire nuclear weapons program has become a demand to make it smaller and hide it better."
Pletka and likeminded hardliners know Iran's nuclear program has no military component. They duplicitously claim otherwise. They're in lockstep with longstanding US and Israeli policy.
They want the Islamic Republic eliminated. They want it replaced. They want Western control restored. They want war short of other ways to get it.
They'll support an Israeli attack. It's unlikely but possible. America and Israel have longstanding plans readied. Both countries represent the greatest threat to world peace.
In June 1981, Israeli warplanes attacked Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor. It was under construction. It was nearly completed.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, and other hardliners called Iraq an existential threat. Independent observers said otherwise.
Anticipatory self-defense doesn't wash. It's lawless. George Bush asserted America's right to "impose preemptive, unilateral military force when and where it chooses." Obama governs by the same standard.
In 1981, the Security Council said "the military attack by Israel was in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct."
It didn't matter. Recrimination didn't follow. America gets away with murder and then some. So does Israel.
Iraq was a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatory since 1968. It remains one. Israel is a nuclear outlaw. It falsely calls Iran an existential threat.
Will a future attack follow? Will Washington support it? Will they attack together? Dick Cheney calls war on Iran inevitable. He urges it. He's not alone.
Lunatics infest Washington. Likeminded ones govern Israel. Anything ahead is possible. Both countries want sovereign independent Iran eliminated. So do rogue regional allies.
An interim deal at best delays possible military force. Employing it remains on the table.
So does potentially striking Iran with bunker buster or other nuclear weapons.They're deployed close by. They're ready to be launched on command.
Iran's under no illusions. Washington and Israel can't be trusted. Neither country negotiates in good faith. They're all take and no give.
Agreements they reach are often breached. Regional tensions remain high.
Israeli German-supplied submarines carry nuclear missiles. Its warplanes are equipped to launch them. So can its long range missiles.
In mid-October, the IDF held war games. They included long-range warplane exercises. Air-to-air refueling was practiced. Drills over the Mediterranean were unusually extensive.
War games aren't unusual. At the same time, practicing offensive tactics are worrisome. Israel notoriously attacks preemptively. It struck Syrian targets five times this year.
Perhaps it plans something major against Iran. If not now, maybe later. Maybe jointly with Washington.
Maybe at a more strategic time. Nuclear talks may be more subterfuge than real. The fullness of time will tell.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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