Talks on Iran at deadlock: Russian senior research fellow

Talks on Iran at deadlock: Russian senior research fellow

Russian Academy of Sciences World Economy and International Relations Institute Senior Research Fellow Vladimir Yevseyev specially for Trend

Of course, a dialogue between the West and Iran is a good point, but it should rely on some basis. While earlier U.S. has preferred to use pressure on the Islamic Republic or apply more serious sanction on it, now Obama's representatives state it is possible to hold negotiations. In this case, the matter is time - when?

Presidential elections in Iran will take place on June 12 and Obama administration's most of representatives say they should not take hasty decisions on this issue [negotiations]. Particularly, the Israeli officials convince the U.S. president and his team in it. This is the first issue whether Obama's representatives should meet with the Iranian officials by June. 12 to discuss anything, at all. The second issue is whether any preliminary conditions will be put forward in the upcoming negotiations or the negotiations will be held without any conditions. Several versions are possible in this matter.

The U.S. side has stated that Iran should cancel uranium enrichment process in order U.S. to hold direct negotiations.

Meanwhile, just direct negotiations enabled U.S. to solve the North Korean nuclear problem. And it is too important to hold direct negotiations, because thus far Washington has refused direct negotiations. Although the Iranian and U.S. officials partook in different meetings, but so far, the countries have not held a bilateral meeting. If direct negotiations are possible, naturally, it will be positive. However, at present the matter is that uranium is being enriched in Natanza and U.S. officials who demand to cancel this process at the moment will demand it in future, as well. Therefore, we should not expect a positive result in this case.  

Iran unambiguously will not agree with this initial condition and any direct negotiations, as well.

Furthermore, the current negotiations are at deadlock, because Iran does not partake in them directly, but communicates through Javier Solana who visits Tehran and informs the other side about Iran's position. This process is absolutely indefinite. It is desirable Iran will take its seat at the negotiation table. In this case there will be seven - Iran and five permanent members of the UN Council of Security and Germany. The format of the negotiations may be changed. I personally proposed to the U.S. Congress high ranking officials to change the format in autumn of last year. However, then the U.S. considered that such a step toward Iran to be encouragement in the background of Iran's "poor behavior".

Nevertheless, the current format of negotiations on Iran is a deadlock. No positive result could be reached within the existing format.

Even if the U.S. is ready to launch direct talks, but still consider the possible toughening of sanctions on Iran, it is not a positive step. Unfortunately, U.S. takes such steps repeatedly. In the case of the North Korea when the U.S. made any tough statements it delayed the negotiations.

The U.S. ought to be careful in establishing contacts. If Washington has evident intention to launch direct talks, then U.S. must put aside preconditions and stop any sanction on Iran.

Some Russian experts follow this view. It is difficult to understand whether Washington is ready for this, because the Barack Obama's new State Department is still being forming. We do not yet know exactly who will lead the talks from the U.S. Usually the U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Middle East is occupied on the issue. I know that this person is not approved. Therefore, there are still issues relating to those policy makers who will negotiate. The Senate must appoint this person. If Senate does not approve the candidate, then his rights is incomprehensible.

Russia could make proposals so that to assist the direct talks. Iran is an extremely complicated negotiator. Especially because of Teheran gives its real capabilities too high. This was evident in the satellite launch, which actually was low and not full-function. Iran overstates claiming to be a nuclear power, in reality it is not. Iran overestimates its positions in nuclear missile field and in general positioning in the world. When the Islamic Republic poses itself at the same level with China, that raises at least skepticism among some experts.

All this prevents constructive negotiations. A bilateral U.S.-Iran format would be ideal, but experience shows that the U.S. never agrees to direct negotiations right away. If we remember the North Korean case, the direct talks were preceded by multilateral meetings. Scenario will be the same with Iran. Russia could propose a multilateral meeting, but so that Iran took place at a common table to discuss this issue.

Moreover, the Iranian issue is not confined to nuclear or missile problem. It covers a range of issues that affect Iran, either directly or indirectly. We cannot solve one problem without affecting the other. There are also security issues. The U.S. held direct negotiations with Iran on Iraq. Similar negotiations are possible on Afghanistan. Perhaps it would be better to use these methods to resolve the bilateral relations.

This will undoubtedly shape the general atmosphere. There have been some advances and suggestions from the U.S. about diplomatic relations. But they met no reply. Russia could promote normal relations between Iran and the U.S. This process is extremely complex and not necessarily will lead to a positive outcome. The process and efforts will be positive. Clearly, Iran's interests must be taken into account, but Tehran should make some counter-actions. The Islamic Republic should realize that if it only wants to receive without giving anything in return, none of the negotiators will agree.

Opinions expressed in this article may be different of those held by Trend

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