By Press TV
By Hassan Beheshtipour
The talks between Iran and the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, were held in the Lotfi Kirdar Hall in Istanbul at 11:00 a.m. local time (1700 GMT) on Saturday.
The first round of the talks were held before lunch and lasted three hours. Reporters say the second round of the talks involved eight hours of intense bilateral and multilateral dialogue; though no particular achievement has been mentioned. Most of the observers describe the talks, held after a 14-month hiatus, as constructive and encouraging because the two parties have arrived at an agreement on the framework as well as the date of the future negotiations.
There were three reasons why the two sides succeeded in moving toward an agreement for determining a specific framework for the talks.
First, the fact was proven to Washington that its “pressure and dialogue” strategy has not born the results it sought over the past two years. This strategy did not stop Iran’s nuclear energy activities regarding uranium enrichment, and the intensive sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic actually boosted the national resolve for expanding its peaceful nuclear program. For instance, the construction of the nuclear fuel rod for Tehran’s Research Reactor and the confirmation of this achievement by the International Atomic Energy Agency took all the specialists privy to the difficulties of the undertaking by surprise.
So much that the warmongering rivals of US President Barack Obama, during their presidential campaigns, admitted to the inefficiency of the sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic and instead called for a military aggression against Iran. Of course it was obvious that Obama could not tie the fate of the region and the world to the fantasies of some extremist Republicans.
Thus, by forgoing the motto of stopping Iran’s uranium enrichment, Obama sought a middle solution by moving toward creating a controlled restriction in Iran’s nuclear energy activities.
According to this strategy, as reported by the US media, Washington only seeks to stop uranium enrichment to the 20 percent level and has no problem with Iran enriching its uranium to five percent under the surveillance of the international nuclear agency.
The second factor helping to end the negotiation deadlock was the US admission to accepting Russia’s “step by step” approach. This is important because Iran has always protested against the one-sided and demanding US approach. In recent years, Washington had always demanded a unilateral acceptance of the obligations by Iran without shouldering any of the mutual obligations itself. Now during the second Istanbul talks, without any mention of Russia’s “step by step” approach, both sides have accepted to practically express their willingness to find a solution and to move forward phase by phase.
The third factor was the Iranian delegation’s emphasis on the fatwa issued by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. In fact, stressing that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is forbidden in Islam created an atmosphere of trust in the negotiations. The fatwa and its impact on the Iranian government’s policies, as explained by Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili, assured the other side of Iran’s commitment to help the second round of negotiations in Istanbul to reach a clear result.
The main issue is now the elements which will be possibly included by both sides in the third round of talks in Baghdad on May 23. Based on the two sides’ remarks, Ali Baqeri, Jalili’s deputy for international affairs, will confer with European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, to reach an agreement on the draft of Baghdad talks.
However, judging from what the two sides have so far said, they have, at least, agreed on the following points:
1. The main topic for future talks should be ways of implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in its entirety;
2. Any commitment will be bilateral and every article of the agreement should be implemented by both sides as the implementation of each phase depends on the completion of the previous phase. In this way, there would be no concern about not fulfilling the previous commitments.
3. The continuation of uranium enrichment in Iran will be definite and the P5+1 – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – should accept it as an undeniable reality because the NPT has recognized peaceful nuclear activities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for all member states;
4. Islamic Republic, in return, will take all necessary measures within the framework of the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement to build confidence with the IAEA, so that, the other side will have no more reason to be concerned about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
Taking the above points into account, the main concern is whether the warmongering and adventurist political factions will allow the developments to move in a direction that will finally end in the restitution of Iran’s nuclear case to the normal agenda of the IAEA.
It seems the stage is set for achieving a comprehensive agreement, but not all the obstacles can be removed rapidly as the complexities of a ten-year case cannot be ironed out in a short period of time. However, if Baghdad talks move in the direction of finding moderate and logical solutions, as was the case with the second round of talks in Istanbul, fruitful collaboration can undoubtedly substitute the past distrust.
Hassan Beheshtipour is a researcher, documentary producer, and a frequent contributor to Press TV. Born on June 22, 1961 in the Iranian capital, Beheshtipour received his BA in Trade Economics from the prestigious Tehran University. His research topics span from US and Russian foreign policy to the Ukrainian Orange Revolution. The Iranian analyst is currently busy with research on the 1979 US embassy takeover in Tehran.