Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Direct talks with Iran. Ruh roh.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

After months of optimistic reporting and rumint, it looks like the P5+1 talks with Iran are sputtering just short of the July 20 deadline for an agreement. Gee, I wonder why.

Reportedly, talks are sticking over Iran’s enrichment capacity and over the length of time any agreement will need to be in place before the Islamic Republic is allowed back into the good graces of the world. Interestingly, the heavy water reactor at Arak is considered an easier hurdle to manage. So what’s the problem, and why does the US once again need to parachute in Deputy SecState Bill Burns, who is credited with getting the initial Joint Plan of Action in place last year?

Here’s a theory: Like the appalling bargainer it is (viz Bergdahl, Israel/Palestine etc), the Obama administration gave everything up front. Continued enrichment? Iran got that.  Missile development? Check. Military applications for nuclear program? That’s the IAEA’s problem. Past history of nuclear program? Please, what’s past is past. Regime security?  Implicit. Support for terrorism? What terrorism. Bribery to get to next level of talks? Think billions of dollars paid over recent months. Serious sanctions enforcement? “Iranian oil exports on course to blow past limits”.

Now, it’s not that the Iranians have done nothing. They’ve done most of what they’ve been asked. That’s the point; they weren’t asking for much. And the non-partisan Institute for Science and International Security says that the JPA has increased Iran’s breakout time by at most 1.2 months. That’s progress like being told you have an extra month to live.

Now the Iranians, who have proven themselves adept at managing their foreign interlocutors, are holding out for a better deal. Enter Burns for direct talks. Wanna bet they get one? Yeah, me too.

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2 thoughts on “Direct talks with Iran. Ruh roh.

  1. Such “talks” are both foolishness and folly. This is the because the officials of the lying and disingenuous Islamic clerics who are the real power in Iran have their own kind of Islamic agenda about going nuclear and will not listen to reason. For Islamic religious fanatics will not respond to reason and Islamic religious fanatics they are.They hwill have their officials speak the truth only when it happens to suit them the rest ofthe time they will be lying and sayng half-truths. They will fake being interested in genuine negotiations. This is to get as much sanctions lifted as possible. This is not to ,as they claim, to make life more easy forthe people of Iran, but so they may in a more easy way have access to the materials to construct and obtain nuclear weapons. To have and use W.M.D. is their mad Islamic quest. Of course such a religious and irrational way of thinking is very hard for most people of the West to understand since it’s based not in logic or reason but on a type of Islamic religion of fanitics. Thus even an attempt to have reasoned and constructive dialogue with those of such a mindset is out of the question. At best “talks” with the officials of Ayatollah Khamenei ,Rouhani and the other mullahs in power in Iran will have outcomes of futility. At worse the result of these “talks” will be a disaster. In sum,Thomas Jefferson did have a valid point when he explained “An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.”

  2. I think we’re seeing now why a deal with Iran will inevitably fail and that is because the one non-negotiable part for Iran will be its insistence on significantly upgrading and expanding its refining capacity with next generation centrifuges. Zarif and other ranking officials, including Khamenei have drawn a line in the sand at refining capacity because with it, they could afford to give away almost every other concession to the West while still retaining the ability to quickly generate a stockpile of weapons grade material. Iran views this capacity as its trump card against the perceived threat posed by Israel and its final Billy club it can use against its neighbors since possessing the ability to quickly make bomb material is almost as good as the ability to build a bomb since Iran already possesses the technical knowhow to assemble and deliver a weapon thanks to North Korea technology transfers.

    The West knows this which is why it has been insistent about cutting capacity, not expanding it and ultimately is what is causing Iran to issue muted calls for a six month extension in talks beyond the July deadline.

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