The Obama administration is facing its last best chance to
reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program—not just to meet an end-of-the-month
deadline for a deal, but also to seal one before skeptical Republicans who will control
Congress next year are able to scuttle it, AP reported.
Years of negotiations to resolve differences between west and Iran on Tehran’s
civilian nuclear production entered the final stretch Sunday as U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union
senior adviser Catherine Ashton in Oman’s capital. With no immediate agreement in
sight, officials said the discussions were expected to continue. READ FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media VIENNA—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says nuclear talks with
Iran have made good progress but there is “still work to do” to meet a July 20
deadline. Speaking after talks in Vienna between six world powers and Iranian
officials, Kerry said there have been “tough negotiations” and that “very real gaps”
remain in the positions of the two sides.
He said he still believes there is a path forward and that both sides are working in
Kerry said he is returning to Washington to consult with President Barack Obama and
Congress about the prospects for a long-term deal with Iran.
Kerry said he has told Iranian officials that the 19,000 nuclear centrifuges the
country possesses are too many.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech last week that Iran
needs tens of thousands more centrifuges.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a separate news conference on
July 15, said that although he still hopes a deal would be possible by the July 20
deadline, he believed enough progress has been made to justify an extension.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media TEHRAN—Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on Monday against what he called “excessive demands” by some powers at nuclear talks, saying that it will be detrimental to the negotiations, Press TV reported.
“At the recent Geneva talks, good progress was made, but everyone must realize that excessive demands could complicate the process towards a win-win agreement,” Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
“From our point of view, there should not be a situation in which the will of parties to reach mutually acceptable agreement is affected,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. The Iranian president did not expand on the “excessive demands, ” but western media reported on Monday that French President Francois Hollande has put forward some major demands to Iran ahead of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 —the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — set to begin on Wednesday.
Iran should take four “essential” steps: “First, put all the Iranian nuclear installations under international supervision right now. Second, suspend enrichment to 20 percent. Third, reduce the existing stockpile of enriched uranium,” Hollande said on Sunday in Israel.
“Finally, halt construction of the Arak (heavy water) plant. These are the points which for us are essential to guarantee any agreement,” he said according to western media.
On Monday, a senior Iranian lawmaker said the Islamic republic will leave the negotiating table if the U.S. Congress approves additional sanctions against Tehran, according to Press TV.
“The U.S. Congress has recently been seeking to approve a bill to increase sanctions against Iran. It has been decided that the negotiations will be suspended if the bill gets through the U.S. Congress,” said Mohammad-Hassan Asafari who is a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran’s Majlis ( parliament).
Besides, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, said ongoing nuclear talks between Tehran and world powers must lead to the lifting of sanctions which have been imposed on the country due to its nuclear activities, Tehran Times daily reported on Monday.
“All sanctions, including unilateral, multilateral, and the sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council, must be lifted, and if it does not happen and the sanctions are not lifted, it is meaningless for us to take confidence-building measures,” Takht-Ravanchi, also deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, was quoted as saying.
On Monday, the Russian president told Rouhani in the phone conversation that there is a “real chance” to resolve the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Following a phone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Putin said that he believes there will be an opportunity to find a solution to the nuclear stand-off.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Key Democratic senators are considering whether to
break with President Barack Obama on diplomacy with Iran as the administration is
urging lawmakers to delay a new round of sanctions, according to news reports by
Press TV. At a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, administration officials urged
top staffers to postpone the legislation to give nuclear talks a chance to play out.
“A date has not been finalized yet,” a Senate Banking Committee staffer told The Hill
following the meeting.
The measure, adopted by the House of Representatives in July, would target Iran’s oil
export and its foreign currency reserves. The Senate was to debate the bill in
September but it was held back at the request of the White House as such a measure
would have derailed the nuclear talks, Press TV reported.
As president, it is time for Barack Obama to use the mighty pen to demonstrate to the
“blood-thirsty” warlike cabal attempting to suck the lifeblood out of the peaceful
negotiations, that he is not their puppet.
At most, the dissatisfied actors can only pout, like they always do when they don’t
get their way, even though men are not supposed to pout.
When George W. Bush felt it was time to lift sanctions from Libya, he signed an
Executive Order that restored normal relations between the U.S. and Libya. The Order
Bush signed was called the Presidential Determination No. 2004-30, and he
was able to bypass all the political theatrics.
At this point Obama has nothing to lose. He is not running for office anymore, and all
he has to concentrate on is building a positive legacy, foreign and domestic.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—More than 100 members of the U.S. Congress have given their support to a letter calling on President Barack Obama to re-engage Iran diplomatically over its nuclear program following the election of the Islamic Republic’s next president.
As of July 18, the letter had the signatures of 118 members of the House of Representatives, about a quarter of that body. The letter’s authors, a Republican and a Democrat, hoped to send it to the White House on July 19.
The letter notes that while Iran has changed presidents before, “it would be a mistake not to test whether” newly-elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani represents a genuine opportunity for progress in U.S.-Iranian relations.
Iran has repeatedly denied allegations that it is pursuing nuclear weapons, saying its atomic program is peaceful.
In a recently drafted letter intended for Obama, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers, Charles Dent (Republican-Pennsylvania) and David Price (Democrat-North Carolina), said it would be “a mistake” not to test the waters now that a new president is in place.
The two lawmakers urged Obama to use all available diplomatic tools “to reinvigorate” nuclear talks but cautioned against doing anything that might appear to delegitimize Rohani.
Representative Keith Ellison (Democrat-Minnesota), who supports that call, told RFE/RL that Rohani’s election could present the U.S. with an opportunity “to reset” its relationship with Tehran.
“It’s not a guarantee —a guarantee and an opportunity are not the same thing,” Ellison said. “But I think if there is even a chance that the United States and Iran could engage in a new relationship-building situation, then we should take it. Both are large, powerful countries and there has been a hostile rhetoric going back and forth. Why not, with the election of Mr. Rohani, see if we can reset the relations and at least begin a dialogue?”
Source: Tehran Times
by Mu Xuequan
Newscast Media VIENNA—Agreement on probing suspected work on Iran’s controversial nuclear program was expected to be signed soon, said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday.
“There was an important development on the structured approach document on which we have been working since January,” Amano told reporters at Vienna airport after return from his one-day trip to Tehran where he held talks with chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Amano said the decision was made to reach agreement on the mechanics of giving the IAEA access to sites, scientists and documents it seeks to address international concerns over the country’ nuclear activities.
“There remain some differences, but Mr. Jalili elaborated that the differences will not be an obstacle to reach an agreement,” Amano said.
He added that the two sides “understood each other’s positions better,” which was the reason that “we could make this important development.”
One priority issue for IAEA in recent talks with Iran is the agency’s demand for access to Iran’s Parchin military site southeast of Tehran.
Media said the IAEA has received reports that Iran had tested explosives which could be used to set off a nuclear charge. Iran denied such reports, and insisted access to Parchin would only be granted if Iran and the IAEA agree on certain conditions and steps.
In response to questions on the matter, Amano said “I have raised this issue of access to Parchin, and this issue will be addressed as a part of the implementation of the structured approach document.”
Amano was quoted by Iranian semi-official Mehr news agency on Monday as saying that they held expansive and intensive talks in good atmosphere, and the progress in the dialogue will have positive impact on the wider nuclear talks between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Wednesday.
New round of nuclear talks over the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear activities was resumed between the IAEA and Iran last week. After two days of negotiations, the two sides agreed to meet again, and Amano traveled to Tehran to discuss “issues of mutual interests” with high-level Iranian officials.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Just as in the past, whether the next round of talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, due to be held in Baghdad on 23 May, can be fruitful lies in the United States and Iran finding common ground.
In fact, although Saturday’s talks in Istanbul finished on a positive note, with Iranian chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, describing them as “very successful” and a White House spokesperson praising Iran’s “positive attitude”, achieving a permanent and peaceful solution will be difficult, as the US and Iran disagree over the core issue of whether Iran should develop its own uranium enrichment capacity.
Prior to Saturday’s talks, the Obama administration had emphasized that negotiations between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran had not met expectations.
It said Iran had not cooperated with the agency on key issues such as clarifying suspect nuclear items and permitting on-site inspections of nuclear facilities. If Iran does not change its attitude, even if there are further negotiations between Iran and “Five plus One” countries – the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany – it will be hard to make substantial progress.
The Obama administration wants to settle the Iranian nuclear issue before the US presidential elections in November. But at the moment it faces a challenge trying to coordinate policy goals with the Israeli government, with which it already has differences over the establishing of Jewish settlements in Israeli occupied territories.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US in March, Obama said that the US will do everything it can to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons because it doesn’t serve the US and Israeli’s security interests. But he also said there is still the possibility of solving the issue through diplomacy. This was widely interpreted as Obama trying to restrain Israel from launching military strikes against Iran.
It is generally believed that Israel will not be able to launch a successful military attack on Iran without the US’ support, but the Israeli government has declared several times that it will launch military attack on Iran before the US presidential election in November.
During his visit, Netanyahu also declared that Israel would not make a commitment to inform the Obama administration before taking military action against Iran. In fact, the “red line” that would trigger a military attack on Iran is quite different for the US and Israel. For the US it would be Iran’s decision to make nuclear weapons, while for Israel it is Iran’s capability to make nuclear weapons.
But it is generally believed that Israeli air strikes would only delay Iran’s nuclear program rather than completely destroy its capacity to develop nuclear weapons, and that they would give Iran’s leaders the pretext to publicly commit to making nuclear weapons. This is not what Obama administration wants.
Another challenge the administration faces is controlling rising oil prices.
Since late 2011, the Obama administration has urged the major countries importing oil from Iran, to stop or reduce these imports. EU countries, South Korea, and Japan soon followed the US’ bidding. This has hit Iran’s economy, as oil exports, which are regarded as its economic lifeline, have declined sharply. But it has also led to rising international oil prices.
The Obama administration believes that with Iran’s domestic commodity prices already rising and its currency devaluing, the Iranian people will become more and more dissatisfied with the government, forcing its leaders to abandon the country’s nuclear program.
Moreover, the US is still trying to disentangle itself from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and whether the Obama administration is willing to commit the US to a new conflict in the Middle East is a big decision.
It is thought that if the US did launch a military attack on Iran together with Israel, it would win wide political support and boost Obama’s re-election chances. But this support would be temporary, and if Obama was elected for a second term his administration would be left with the consequences.
So there may still be hopes of peace in the Persian Gulf, as Obama has repeatedly held out olive branches to Iran since he took office, and Iran’s top leader has praised Obama for restraining Israel.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
Newscast Media TEHRAN —The Iranian foreign minister has said that the six major powers have time until the Baghdad talks to show their determination to help resolve Iran’s nuclear issue through taking confidence-building measures. Ali Akbar Salehi made the remarks during a televised interview broadcast live on Jaam-e-Jam TV network on Sunday night.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) held a new round of talks in Istanbul on Saturday and agreed to meet in Baghdad on May 23.
“If they, in the remaining time to the next round of talks, show behavior which helps build confidence, it could help reduce the time needed for settling the nuclear issue,” Salehi said, adding, “They can take measures to assure us that they are determined to build confidence.”
He went on to say that Iran has shown that it is keen to engage in talks and help resolve the nuclear issue, but has not retreated from its nuclear plans.
“If the West takes steps to assure us of the settlement of the nuclear issue and the effectiveness of the talks… we will also take great steps, through employing our own mechanisms and methods, to help settle our country’s nuclear issue,” the soft-spoken minister explained.
He also pointed to the West’s concern about Iran’s nuclear program and said that Tehran will develop a mechanism to ease their worries and protect its nuclear rights.
Commenting on the Istanbul talks, the senior diplomat said that the West has been compelled to come to terms with the might of the Islamic Republic and realized Iran’s real situation, adding that they entered the talks with this attitude, which is a positive point for the settlement of Iran’s nuclear issue.