Experts: Iran's decision to freeze talks will not affect further development of events

Experts: Iran's decision to freeze talks will not affect further development of events

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 1 / Trend T.Konyayeva /

Tehran's decision to freeze talks on the nuclear issue and expansion of the membership of the negotiating group will not affect the situation around Iran's nuclear program in a whole, experts say.

"Iran's move does not "penalise" the international community in any meaningful way, since the U.S. and the other major powers have little confidence in the first place that those talks will lead to progress on the nuclear issue," Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute Ted Galen Carpenter wrote Trend in an e-mail.

Earlier this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Tehran will 'punish' the world powers for the implementation of the new sanctions, freezing all negotiations on the nuclear issue for two months (until August) and forwarding some conditions for the resumption of the negotiating process.

Change or expansion of the participants in the negotiations on Iran's nuclear program and clarification over the situation surrounding Israel's nuclear arsenal are among Ahmadinejad's conditions.

According to Carpenter, Ahmadinejad's decision is primarily a gesture to appeal to certain domestic constituencies and sympathizers in the rest of the Muslim world.

"Whether Tehran agrees to talk or refuses to talk has little impact on the underlying reality--that Iran is determined to proceed with its nuclear program," he said.

Iranian Professor at the University of Glasgow Reza Taghizadeh believes such suggestion by Iranian President Ahmadinejad that the talk with "5+1" would be delayed for 2 month makes no sense at all as there has never been any deadline set for the talk with Iran by any of the previous interlocutors or the sides such as IAEA or the "5+1" group that could be delayed by Iran as a mean of retaliations.

"Suggestion by Ahmadinejad that the talk with the "5+1" would be delayed for 2 month makes no sense at all, unless one could conclude that Iran is sending a signal ready to open negotiations and talks with the international community but no sooner that the next two month," Taghizadeh wrote Trend in an e-mail.

The time delay could be used as a face saving measure for the Iranian public, he said.

"In the meantime, Iran could add up to its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium by another 14 kg," Tagizadeh said. "Iran is hoping that after the start of a new round of talks this could be used as a bargaining cheep helping the regime to negotiate better deal with the "5+1" group."

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi reported in late June, that Iran had enriched 17 kilograms of uranium to 20-percent purity, as well as that it has the ability to produce 5 kilograms per month.

Iran has started enriching uranium to 20-percent level from the previous 5-percent in February, citing the need for nuclear fuel for reactors designed to produce medical isotopes.

Nevertheless, Taghizadeh said, with the new sanctions imposed by the UN, the EU and the US the world community is expecting that Iran gets under severe pressure and gradually succumbed to the circumstances.

"Despite all world leaders are demonstrating verbal willingness to start talks with Iran, in practice they are more interested to see Iran weakening even further, before they could force them to meet fully with the UN demands stated in 4 sets of sanctions ratified since 2006 by Security Council, " he said.

To date, the UN Security Council adopted six resolutions, four of which are aimed at imposing sanctions against Iran, requiring the country to give up uranium enrichment, and two resolutions containing warnings.

Carpenter regards the proposal to expand the number of participants in the negotiating group "5+1" as interesting.

"Most likely, it is an attempt to get both Turkey and Brazil added, since those countries seem the most inclined among major powers to take a "soft line" toward Iran's nuclear program," he said.

The UNSC approved a resolution in May 2006, under which the "5+1" group that was mandated to negotiate with Iran has been established.

The "5+1" include five countries - the UNSC permanent members with veto power - Britain, France, USA, China, Russia, and Germany. Turkey and Brazil, which are non-permanent members of the UNSC are the only, which voted against the adoption of the latest resolution on Iran.

According to Taghizadeh, Iran's proposal to expand the group in order to include Turkey and Brazil is very unlikely to be accepted since the "5+1" group are practically acting the UN Security Council permanent members, where as Turkey and Brazil are only non permanent members of the UNSC.

Brazil, Germany, India and Japan insist on the UN reform and expansion of the Security Council since the mid 1990's. In May 2005, they submitted a draft resolution to the UN General Assembly on increasing the number of council members from 15 to 25, and the number of countries sitting in it all the time - from 5 to 11.

China, the U.S., Russia, France and Britain are against the expansion of the UNSC members. Washington, in principle, opposed to increasing the number of council members, as it will complicate decision-making.

"Even in a very unlikely situation that Turkey and Brazil joined the Vienna Group ( France-Russia and the US ) or the "5+1" Group condition for Iran is not going to get changed," Taghizadeh said.

Unlike the American and British experts, Iranian National Interests Protection Organization Secretary General Said Jari named Iran's wish to reduce the tension between Western countries and Iran over the deal on the exchange of uranium and other issues as a reason for Ahmadinejad's statements on the suspension of negotiations before the end of August.

"Ahmadinejad asked to suspend negotiations until the end of August, because the western countries and the U.S. rejected the tripartite agreement signed between Turkey, Brazil and Iran, and then imposed the new sanctions," Jari told Trend over the telephone.

Turkey, Brazil and Iran signed an agreement on exchange of 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium in the territory of Turkey May 17.

The foreign ministers of these countries signed a draft agreement for the exchange of Tehran's existing low-enriched uranium (3.5%) to the highly enriched (up to 20%) fuel for the Tehran research reactor. The exchange, according to the document will be on the Turkish territory. Under the agreement, Iran is ready to send 1.2 tons of low enriched uranium to Turkey to obtain 120 kilograms of nuclear fuel.

According to Jari, the negotiations would be fruitless in such circumstances. So Ahmadinejad has suspended talks and preparing a new package of proposals, created the conditions for exit from the impasse, he added.  

At the recent news conference Ahmadinejad said that the Iranian National Security Council develops a new package of proposals, which will be sent to countries of the 'Six' and the IAEA Board of Governors.

"I think that the resumption of negotiations will coincide with a new package of proposals in late August," Jari said. "The negotiations will be activated on the basis of new programs and new proposals."

The reason for the proposal to change the composition of the "Six", in his opinion, is the existence of new players such as Turkey and Brazil in the international arena.

"Despite the fact that Turkey and Brazil have certain obligations to the "5+1" group, they may have an impact on issues of international and regional relations and security issues," Jari said adding that they are able to play the role of observers over the "Six" countries.

Jari believes new countries in the 'Six' can affect the opposition to the unipolar hard decisions taken by the 'Six' in regard to countries of the region, as well as mitigating the cause of their positions.

"Turkey, Brazil or other countries may join the "5+1" group in the same capacity as Germany," Jari said. "The likelihood is that the group will acquire a different format, very high, since the 'Six' may accept this offer for the more tractable Iran."

However, according to Carpenter, the basic situation remains the same.

"Neither negotiations nor economic sanctions are likely to prevent Iran from eventually entering the ranks of the global nuclear powers," he said. "Only military force might prevent that outcome, and such a step is far too dangerous."

T.Jafarov contributed to the article.

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at [email protected]

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