Iran and US need ‘mutual confidence building’

Iran and US need ‘mutual confidence building’
To have economic sanctions removed Iran should start building confidence with the US and become more transparent with its nuclear program, Middle East commentator Meir Javedanfar told RT.

RT:Iranian President Rouhani said there would be no nuclear deal until the economic sanctions are lifted. How much could this statement complicate efforts to reach a final deal in June?

Meir Javedanfar: Let me be quite frank: if this is the Iranian position and if Iran is not going to show any compromises over this issue, there will be no deal.

RT:Why are we seeing disagreements now? These issues were settled in Switzerland, weren’t they?

MJ: It seems that they weren’t. Many of us were very excited to hear that there has been a draft agreement. Some people got excited because there was a diplomatic solution… We heard all sorts of reports that the two sides have managed to narrow many of the gaps. Yes, they have managed to narrow some of the gaps, but some crucial gaps remain. For example, this sanctions issue, this is a non-starter for the P5+1. I’m sure even perhaps for some countries outside the P5+1, especially Israel. To have all the sanctions removed everybody wants to reach the stage where Iran would keep its nuclear installations open which means Iran will have something to walk away with, they have a face-saving solution. But because of the previous fact that the Iranians have not been very transparent with their nuclear program, America wants to keep some of the sanctions in place until such times when Iran [addressed the concerns]. And if Iran is going to be unwilling to do that then, first of all, it shows that there has been no agreement reached over this important issue, second, it means that we are not very close to a deal at the moment.

A general view of the Bushehr main nuclear reactor. (Reuters/Raheb Homavandi)

RT:Doesn't Iran have a right to demand the full lifting of sanctions? After all, the deal could see it limit its program for over a decade?

MJ: It does [oblige] Iran to limit its nuclear program, but we also have to remember that there has to be confidence building on both sides. I understand that even Russia and China called out when Iran was building secret enrichment facility in Fordo and the previous one in Natanz. Therefore there has to be some kind of a mechanism in place to make sure that the crucial parts of the deal are delivered in the first place which means that starting with mutual confidence building, that Iran, for example, has taken some important steps regarding previous military dimensions and, of course, also making sure that it is abiding by the terms of the agreement. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the situation where there is not a lot of confidence in the beginning, that’s why these sanctions will not be removed immediately.

READ MORE: President Rouhani: Iran won't sign final nuclear deal unless all sanctions lifted

RT:The US wants sanctions to 'snap back' if Iran cheats and also wants the sanctions to be reduced gradually. Is it really fair for the US to expect both?

MJ: We have to understand that both sides are giving something here. Yes, Iran will be giving something up because the sanctions will not be removed immediately. But also the West will be giving something up. We have to remember that Iran’s enrichment program right now is contrary to UN resolutions. In fact Iran is operating two centrifuge facilities which according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it was secretly building and was not reporting to them. They were exposed after some opposition movements or some intelligence agencies found out about them. So the fact that these sides… despite the fact that they were operating illegally, being built illegally, are going to stay open means that the West is also giving something up and in return it wants Iran to build confidence by waiting for the sanctions to be gradually removed.

RT:President Obama said that this deal is not based on trust. Is there not a problem here that whatever Iran does it’s not going to be trusted?

MJ: The issue of trust is very important. When President Obama said it was not based on trust he … trying to justify why some of the sanctions will be removed gradually. Of course both sides have done things in the past; both sides have missed opportunities to reach an agreement, to build trust. But now we are only just starting and in the beginning of this situation we have people in Iran who are suspicious which is why President Obama is fighting the pressure from the Congress with such intensity and ferociousness to make sure that they don’t scuttle the deal. So he is showing confidence. But I think that Iranian side has also got to show some confidence because of the fact that it wasn’t transparent with its nuclear program, not all sanctions can be removed immediately.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.