News : Nuclear

Iran Nuclear Talks: Problems and Persistence

By INU staff

INU - The Associated Press on Wednesday provided a summary of the current status of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s probe into the past military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. As reported last week, that probe has hit a serious snag with Iran’s failure to meet an agreed upon deadline last week for five key transparency measures.

That failure represented the violation of what the IAEA considered to be a “firm commitment” from the regime in Tehran. At this point, the IAEA remains suspicious of Iranian claims that their exploding bridge wire experiments had solely civilian applications. In spite of Tehran’s insistence that the matter should be closed, the evidence seems to be against their assertions.

Meanwhile, Iran has apparently provided no evidence of their own on two other key points: the regime’s work on other high explosive charges, and their apparent research into the magnitude of nuclear explosive yields.

The stall in the IAEA inquiry has consequences for the separate talks with the P5+1 group of nations, which are expected to rely on the outcome of that probe when deciding upon a final deal. But in spite of this and other roadblocks to progress, Iranian officials are pressing forward with negotiations, or at least giving the impression of so doing.

On Wednesday, Iran’s Press TV reported that Foreign Minister Zarif arrived in Rome on the last leg of his tour of Europe aimed at this setting the stage for the resumption of talks two weeks from time. The trip included talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels, and was immediately preceded by a visit to Turkey and Russia, two key partners in Iranian regional strategies and sanctions defiance.

That policy of sanctions defiance was publicly affirmed by Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, as reported by Reuters. Zanganeh was responding to the news of new sanctions measures being taken by the United States to target individuals and companies that have helped Iran to pursue its illicit nuclear program and to support terrorism. In vowing to bypass these sanctions, the Oil Minister acknowledged that it has consistently done so in the past. “We do not recognize the sanctions,” he declared via the news website for the oil ministry.

Such defiance matches Zanganeh’s previously declared commitment to ignoring Iran’s obligations under the Joint Plan of Action, with respect to limits on oil exports. And this is not the only provision of the JPOA that Tehran seems to have openly violated. The Tower points out that analysts including Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies are concerned that Iran’s recent testing of more advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges constitutes defiance of provisions freezing the Islamic Republic’s enrichment infrastructure fr the duration of the negotiating period.

Dubowitz directed a message to the State Department asking why this violation is not being recognized, just as the month-over-month violation of oil export limits was not publicly recognized by the Obama administration.

Remarkably, at the same time that it is putting the negotiating process in peril via these violations, Tehran is still publicly defending the position that the talks are still likely to reach a positive conclusion. Even more remarkably, officials still seem to be operating under the assumption that Iran has enough leverage in these talks to be able to set the minimum requirements for a final deal.

Those minimum requirements include the plainly unacceptable position that Iran has a right to enrich uranium in whatever quantities and at whatever pace it desires. Iran has categorically rejected any restrictions on that point, and it continues to do so even in light of the latest sanctions enforcement. France 24 quotes Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as reiterating these demands, as well as declaring, without elaboration, that “[Iran has] ideas for each and every problem which exists on the table.”

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