ROAR: Iran and the West “have softened their stances”
Russian observers are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of solving the Iranian nuclear problem after the group of six nations held talks with representatives of Tehran in Geneva on October 1.
“For the first time there were no principal disagreements inside the six-party group itself,” Kommersant daily wrote. “Its members are ready to have a dialogue with Iran and resort to tough sanctions only in a worst case scenario,” the paper added. This “unanimity” has become a result of the latest meeting between the presidents of Russia and the US, the daily stressed.
The six nations, including the US, do not consider the talks in Geneva as “the last chance for Tehran,” the paper said. However, observers are certain that if the negotiations fail, Russia will join other countries in imposing new sanctions. In this case, China might abstain at the UN Security Council and will not veto the new resolution, Kommersant wrote.
“Tehran seems to have understood this,” the daily added. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that his country is ready “to give its uranium for additional enrichment to any other country,” the paper said.
“Thus, Tehran will not be able to enrich uranium to the stage necessary for developing nuclear weapons,” Kommersant stressed. The idea of Russia “additionally enriching reduced-enrichment uranium from Iran” seems to be in the center of the talks in Geneva, the paper added.
“Iran unexpectedly agreed to buy uranium abroad,” Vedomosti daily wrote in its turn. “In response, the West decided not to raise the issue of sanctions [at the moment],” the paper added.
The six nations and Iran “had softened” their positions just before the talks in Geneva, the daily said. Ahmadinejad expressed his desire to enrich uranium in other countries and for the first time said that he was ready to hold “direct talks with US President Barack Obama,” the paper added.
Anton Khlopkov, director of the Center of Energy and Security, told the daily that Russia might sell enriched uranium to Iran. “In the past, Moscow proposed to deliver the fuel for a nuclear plant from an international center in Angarsk, but Tehran has not accepted the proposal so far,” the analyst said.
Iran is addressing most proposals to the West because “carrots are there – investment, cooperation in the oil field and civil aviation,” Khlopkov said. At the same time Iran is looking at North Korea, and this prompts Tehran to “make similar provocations and exaggerate achievements of its nuclear program,” he added.
Western countries and Russia were trying in Geneva “to launch a new stage of talks with Iran after presidential election in that country,” Maksim Minaev, analyst at the Center for Political Conjuncture, believes.
“Iran, in its turn, is interested in continuing talks on its nuclear program to limit pressure from the US,” Minaev said. At the same time, the analyst believes that one should not expect serious changes of positions on both sides. “But they may determine the main issues for the international discussion around Iran’s nuclear program in the middle-term perspective,” he added.
The six countries should “first apply a soft approach,” Georgy Mirsky, senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told Ekho Moskvy radio. New sanctions should be imposed if this approach fails, he added.
“I am pessimistic about the possibility of solving this issue at the talks in Geneva, as well as about the possibility of a military strike against Iran,” Mirsky said. But it would be wise for Western countries to renew their proposals to Iran, including benefits in exchange for freezing the nuclear program, he added.
Among the possible benefits are commitments to build a nuclear plant, removing restrictions on investment, supplying technologies to Iran, revoking all previous sanctions and removing Iran from “the Axis of Evil,” the analyst said.
”Iran has already rejected all these proposals,” Mirsky said. “But now they would be a litmus test,” he added. If Iran rejects them again, that means that the country is intending “if not to create a nuclear bomb, then to achieve a level of uranium enrichment which allows Tehran to make this bomb,” he added.
Iranian leaders, weakened by the reaction of the population to the latest presidential election will consider the continuation of the nuclear program as “the only means to restore the authority and mobilize the nation,” Mirsky stressed.
“Five or six years pass, and Iran will be able to launch a missile with a nuclear warhead,” he said, adding that this situation is “dangerous and absolutely unacceptable for Israel.”
However, now “the toughest sanctions against Iran will not work,” the analyst believes. Moreover, a possible embargo on oil export “will probably be blocked by Russia or, in any case, by China,” he warned.
Aleksandr Konovalov, president of the Institute of Strategic Assessments, also believes that “a lot will depend on China’s position, because this country has the right to veto in the UN.” But a military strike is practically ruled out at this stage, he told Ekho Moskvy, adding that no side involved in the talks is ready for this at the moment.
The only country that may resort to military action is Israel, he said. “The security doctrine of this state stipulates that only Israel may be the nuclear power in the Middle East,” Konovalov said.
However, the talks in Geneva showed that Iran seems to be ready for cooperation with the international community. In particular, Tehran said it was discussing with the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections at the country’s second uranium enrichment plant.
“This news was an even bigger surprise than the data obtained by [Western] intelligence about Iran’s second enrichment facility,” Vesti TV channel reported. “Tehran itself is satisfied with the talks,” the channel said. “It was not ready for any compromises not long ago, and now for the first time it has agreed to hold direct talks with the US.”
At the same time, “concerns and caution remain,” Vesti said. “If the talks that began in Geneva reach a deadlock again, the draft of the resolution on new sanctions against Iran will be put on the table at the UN.”
Sergey Borisov, RT