US Demands Of Iran Threaten To Scuttle Nuclear Talks Before They Begin – OpEd


The NY Times reports that the U.S. “demands” it will make of Iran in the upcoming round of negotiation:

The Obama administration and its European allies plan to open new negotiations with Iran by demanding the immediate closing and ultimate dismantling of a recently completed nuclear facility deep under a mountain, according to American and European diplomats.

They are also calling for a halt in the production of uranium fuel that is considered just a few steps from bomb grade, and the shipment of existing stockpiles of that fuel out of the country, the diplomats said.

First thing to note, successful negotiations don’t usually begin with one side making demands of the other.  Second, the U.S. position dooms the talks before they begin.  Not only is there is no way on earth Iran will agree to any of them, it won’t even take the demands seriously.  Since its government knows how this game is played it will invent outrageous demands of its own, the talks will fail, everyone will go home, and the extremists on both sides will say they tried and now let whatever happens happens.  And “whatever” will undoubtedly be an armed confrontation of some kind.

But what is even more interesting to me about all this is an interview Bibi gave in today’s Yisrael HaYom, one of those fluff pieces in which the PM gets to crow about all his achievements and the interviewer allows the “Elder Statesman” to bask in his glory.  In it, he revealed that the Israeli demands regarding Iran are exactly the same as Obama’s.  So if anyone thought the U.S. and Israel might have a different take on Iran, that we might be more flexible or pragmatic than the Israelis–think again.  We’re being led by the nose by the Israelis.  Either that, or we’re happy to take their lead and let the chips fall where they may.

Here’s what Bibi said:

The way to confront this strategy of Iran’s [stalling and exploiting divisions among its adversaries] is to demand explicit conditions calling for ceasing all uranium enrichment, removal of all enrich uranium from the country, and its exchange for material which cannot be develop nuclear weapons, and agreement to give up the underground facility in Qom [Fordo].  These are demands which, if achieved, can show we’ve achieved something.  This will be the point of the deliberation over the coming weeks.  It must be an aggressive stance with clear demands so that sanctions will really be able to make an impact.

David Sanger seems to live in a journalist world of magic realism in which there are Iranians who somehow see the wisdom in the President’s position and who will talk sense to the Ayatollah, allowing everything to be resolved peacefully and amiably.  How else to explain this bit of wish-fulfillment:

Still, Mr. Obama and his allies are gambling that crushing sanctions and the threat of Israeli military action will bolster the arguments of those Iranians who say a negotiated settlement is far preferable to isolation and more financial hardship.

What he really means to say is that there are Iranians who would actually argue that the country should capitulate to the west and give up one of its singular national projects around which every element of Iran’s society is united.

Not to be outdone, the Obama administration seems also to live in this land of magical realism:

“We have no idea how the Iranians will react,” one senior administration official said.  “We probably won’t know after the first meeting.”

Sure you do.  You know perfectly well how they’d react because if you were them you’d react the same way.  You’d laugh yourself silly if you weren’t overwhelmed by the sheer tragedy of the charade.

Sanger continues to prove himself a willing water carrier for the anti-Iran hawks, here peddling a story nowhere supported by any reliable evidence:

The shift has underscored doubts among Obama administration officials and their European partners about Iran’s readiness to negotiate seriously and to finally answer questions from international nuclear inspectors about its program’s “possible military dimensions.” Those questions are based in part on evidence that Iran may have worked on warhead designs and nuclear triggers.

The so-called “evidence” regarding warheads and triggers goes back five or six years ago to forged documents the MEK claimed to have procured from the Iran nuclear program, but which turned out to be fakes and which were peddled to willing journalists at the Times of London by the Mossad.  Notice, Sanger doesn’t offer any proof, explanation or source for the “evidence.”  He merely states it as if doing so should be enough to confer credibility on it.  Sorry, but we’ve been down this road before.  Judy Miller and other over-eager reporters took us there.  We’re not going again.  At least not willingly.

Sanger further tells us that Iran can enrich uranium from 20% purity to “weapons grade” in a number of months.  This is a highly dubious claim.  Besides which, even if Iran has enough fuel it still needs a vehicle, a warhead, a trigger, and numerous other features necessary to fire a weapon.  Even the most hawkish analysts says that Iran is more than a year away from this, with most saying it is two or three years away.  Not to mention that later in the same story, Sanger concedes that sanctions may be effective enough to frustrate Iran’s plans to enrich enough uranium to make a weapon.

This article appeared at TIkun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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