Obama's wish for dialogue with Iran would face many obstacles in DC
Two-day negotiations between Iran and the six world powers -
Britain, France, Russia, China, and the US – ended on Wednesday,
with Washington calling the talks “useful,” but with an
However, a senior US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the talks were the most “intense, detailed, straightforward, candid conversations with the Iranian delegation.”
RT:With all the secrecy surrounding the P5+1 talks, how do you think the meeting went?
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich: As you say, it’s very secret, and it’s hard to judge, so one can only gauge what is happening from the past experiences and follow a pattern from thereon. The fact that we hear that Iran has been very serious and very forthcoming really is not new. Perhaps it’s being acknowledged for the first time, but it’s not new. Iran has been very serious about these negotiations, and the EU and [other] powers have applauded the fact that Iran may have signed on the additional protocol and allow for spot inspections. Again, this is not something new. This happened in 2003 when Iran did sign the additional protocol but it wasn’t ratified by the parliament. And it even allowed some inspections into Iran, although it hadn’t been ratified. But all the time, the US convinced its allies, the EU, to push around further and further, and really not uphold its part of the bargain. So nothing has changed much from the way I see it. I see a display of optimism and less hope that it can translate into something substantial. But at this point, again, from what we hear, there’s nothing much out there yet.
RT:Iran has already opened the door, in principle, to immediate inspections. Yet pressure is still being put on Tehran. How long can that be maintained before the talks collapse?
SSU: Inspectors are already due to go to Iran, [thanks to] the additional protocol for on-the-spot inspections. I think that’s the card that Iran played, and it didn’t accomplish anything, so at this point, it’s not going to be putting it on the table straightaway - it does want some concessions. The easiest concession would be to take the threat of force away, to acknowledge Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and then to lift the sanctions. I think Iran would be more than happy to cooperate under the right circumstances. I don’t believe that it would allow itself to be bullied into taking actions that are, frankly, not acknowledged. And that’s what we see at the moment.
RT:Tehran is not the only one under pressure. The White House has been called on to stand up to Iran - not only by some US Senators, but also by Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu had some strong words to say. How big of an obstacle will that prove to be?
SSU: I think most of your viewers would know very well that the decisions made in Washington are influenced by Israel and the pro-Israel lobby groups. So, even if Mr. Obama did want to have a dialogue with Iran and re-establish relations, he’s got many obstacles in his way. In fact, Israeli objections to peace talks - not only Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, but also talks with Iran - are being reinforced in Washington by not only the lobby groups...maybe the congressional members are more loyal to Israel than to the US. I think one thing that Mr. Netanyahu is insisting on is for Iran to have zero enrichment. And Wendy Sherman who headed these talks on behalf of the US on October 3, she had a US senate meeting, and she did in fact say that the US doesn’t recognize Iran’s right to enrichment, which is very interesting, because first of all, it’s not up to the US to make that decision. Maybe it can interpret it that way, but if you go back to 1975, there was a National Security Study Memorandum, and this memorandum said that the US permits – and the word “permit” is very interesting here – the use of mitral to make its own fuel for nuclear reactors, and also to share this with countries that the US has an agreement with. So, in 1975, the US gave permission to a sovereign nation to enrich uranium. But now, as that regime is no longer in place - the Pahlavi regime, the shah’s regime - the US has unilaterally decided that Iran may not process or enrich its own indigenous uranium. So we have the US as the executor of international law. Frankly, I can see Iran’s frustration at this, and it’s beyond my apprehension how the rest of the countries - especially UN Security Council countries - tolerate this decision by the US, which really is in violation of the law itself.
RT:Is it possible that the West will respond with concessions as well, maybe by lifting some of the sanctions?
SSU: Hopefully the Europeans would wisen up and do that, but in America, it’s very difficult for these sanctions to be lifted - except for the ones that Mr. Obama has signed. He has [limited] power with those, but basically, he has to go through Congress. And you know that the US Congress can’t work together right now. The only thing that they do seem to come to terms with is actually against Iran. I don’t see how this can go past Congress. I don’t see them lifting the sanctions anytime soon, unless they see Iran completely give up its rights and all the demands it has, and basically subjugate itself. I don’t see that happening either. The Iranian prime minister does talk about a win-win situation. One would hope for that, but one has to be cautious not to get too optimistic.