By Andrei Ilyashenko
The US clearly looks like it has started the countdown for Iran, although no one knows how much time Iran has.
On the heels of a meeting with British PM David Cameron, US President Barack Obama commented on the upcoming conference of the so-called “G5+1” countries (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), saying that the Iranians must realize that “the window for diplomacy is shrinking,” although there was still “time and space” for a diplomatic solution on Iran. Still, Obama vowed they would do their best to resolve the Iranian problem through diplomatic means.
Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili has recently backed the “G5+1” initiative to restart nuclear talks with Tehran, which are set to kick off in Istanbul next month.
The anti-Iran rhetoric seems to be ratcheting up a notch every month. It is often accompanied by US dispatching more and more carrier strike groups to the Persian Gulf. However, it’s probably the results of the March 2 election in the Majlis, or Iranian parliament, which prompted the revival of the nuclear talks.
The defeat of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s party can’t but harm his standing at the presidential election in summer 2013, virtually raising the chances of Ayatollah Khomeini’s henchman. In any case, the presidential run will calm down the sectarian strife in the country, where each political group is trying to capitalize on the anti-West sentiments.
All this said, Obama is still standing firm against the Israeli attempts to unleash a war on Iran, insisting he won’t draw any “red line,” beyond which Iran will face an Israeli military strike. The US State Department essentially reiterated this stance when it dismissed allegations made by some Russian media that the forthcoming “G5+1” talks with Iran were the “last chance” for the Islamic Republic to set its record straight.
When asked whether US State Secretary Clinton mentioned the “G5+1” conference being Iran’s “last chance” in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told Interfax: “The secretary did not send a warning to the Iranians through Foreign Minister Lavrov.”
According to Nuland, the Iranian topic was discussed primarily in the context of ensuring significant results at the upcoming meeting and not letting Iran use the conference to stall for time to carry on with its nuclear program.
In fact, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov noted that “there are no ‘last chances’ in diplomacy.” Furthermore, there are other topics that are worth discussing in Istanbul, including the IAEA’s efforts to monitor Iran’s most disputed nuclear facilities. “If Iran responds to all existing IAEA concerns, it will be able to enjoy all the rights that Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signatories have, including the right to produce enriched uranium fuel. That is, to my mind, the main objective,” Mr. Lavrov stressed.
The problem is some “G5+1” members might be prone to making excessive demands as to the extent of such inspections. “The Iranians are very likely to agree to inspections. Everything depends on what the demands will be,” Gennady Yevstafiev, retired Lieutenant-General of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, says. “It’s important that the demands weren’t excessive. Every country has its financial, scientific and technical secrets. They should take care not to provoke a harsh response from Iran.”