Experts: Negotiations on Iranian nuclear issue in Turkey could positively influence process

Experts: Negotiations on Iranian nuclear issue in Turkey could positively influence process

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov.13 / Trend T. Konyayeva /

Talks between Iran and P5 +1 in Turkey could positively influence the negotiation process in general, however, Ankara's mediation is more unlikely to solve the dispute over Iran's nuclear issue, experts believe.

"It is possible that the talks in Turkey might be beneficial for both Iran and P5 +1, as good relations have been established between these two neighboring countries," Ahmed Cansiz, Iranian expert on international issues, political sciences professor at Tehran University told Trend over phone.

Late last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that Iran would prefer to negotiate with P5 +1 in Turkey. Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed on Sunday Iran's intention to resume talks with the "Six" international mediators on the nuclear issue on the Turkish territory, particularly in Istanbul.

In October, the EU High Representative for International Affairs, Catherine Ashton, invited Iran to hold talks in Vienna but last week she suggested Geneva as a venue for talks.

According to Cansiz, regardless of the place of talks, if the countries of the so called "Six" don't retreat from their position towards Iranian nuclear program, one should not have hopes of fruitful talks.

"Iran will not renounce its point of view, because it believes it has the right to continue peaceful nuclear program," he said. "Delay in the negotiation process is beneficial for Iran, however, it is already continuing its activity in this sphere," he said.

"P5+1" or so-called "Six" (five permanent UN Security Council's members - UK, China, Russia, U.S. and France + Germany) jointly with the IAEA has been seeking the suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment, which can pose a threat to nuclear nonproliferation regime since 2003.

Iran's negotiations with the six countries were suspended in 2009 after the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution condemning Iran for building a second uranium enrichment plant near the Iranian city of Qom and called upon Tehran to reveal any undeclared nuclear facilities.

Iran has repeatedly denied accusations of developing nuclear weapons, saying it has a right for nuclear development, as its nuclear program is peaceful and intended to meet civilian needs.

"Holding talks in Turkey affects the negotiation process in general, especially for the sake of confidence-building," Kayhan Barzegar, Ph.D., Research Fellow at Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, wrote Trend in e-mail. "Iran trusts Turkey and would like to give mediation role to Turkey," he added.

According to Barzegar, Iran and Turkey do not have any conflict of interests in the region and their regional role in settling the regional crises complete. Turkey's independent policy in opposing the western pressure especially Turkey's opposition with sanctioning Iran, is a turning point in the Iran-Turkey relations and will enhance the bilateral relations in the coming years, he believes.

Turkey unequivocally opposed the tightening of sanctions against Iran: in late March, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke against imposing new sanctions against Iran. In mid-April, Foreign Minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu clearly expressed his country's position, which implies Turkey's unwillingness to accept further sanctions.

According to Barzegar , the issue of confidence-building matters much at the point especially after the West's wrong policy of sanctions to instigate negotiations which effectively don't change Iran's nuclear policy, but brought about much distrust on the Iranian side.

"The P5+1 group must understand that Iran is in the point of no return in its independent enrichment policy. So, the talks should start from this point meaning that the two sides should make confidence-building at this point and work on a fuel swap deal which basically accepts Iran's legitimate demands," Barzegar said.

Cansiz agrees with Barzegar who thinks that the Р5+1 countries must develop the cooperation with Iran.

"Both sides must understand the desires of each other. The group of Six countries did not achieve the results by their actions in the past. But the upcoming talks in Turkey could contribute to the rapprochement of both sides' positions.

Turkish expert of the Eurasian Strategic Research Institute (ASAM), Arif Keskin, said that Iran, being aware of softer and more positive Turkish attitude to Iran's nuclear program than that of P5 +1, is trying to use it in negotiations with the group of Six countries.

"Moreover, Iran is trying to negotiate within the Tehran Declaration. While holding the negotiations in Turkey, the talks will be directed automatically into the course of the joint Iranian-Turkish-Brazilian declaration", he said.

The trilateral agreement on uranium exchange between Iran, Turkey and Brazil was reached May 17. The foreign ministers of these countries signed the draft of the so-called Tehran Declaration to exchange Iranian low-enriched uranium for highly enriched fuel for the Tehran research reactor. According to the document, it must be exchanged on the Turkish territory.

Keskin said that the Iranian nuclear issue will not be resolved even under Turkey's mediation in the dispute, because the main objectives and requirements of the parties are absolutely contrary.

It is most probably to hold talks in Turkey because Iran trusts Turkey much more than it does the west countries and perhaps even Russia and China, Rouzbeh Parsi, analyst of the EU Institute for Security Studies, said.

For the West it is definitely a matter of taking up the thread from both Vienna and Geneva, with an operational emphasis on Vienna, he said. 

"Ahmadinejad's statement about the Iranian side's refusal from discussing its nuclear program during the talks has several motivations," Parsi told Trend via e-mail.

First, Ahmadinejad wants to tell his competitors in Tehran that he is not selling out on the nuclear front. Second, he wants to show that Iran is strong and not caving in because of the sanctions. He sets the agenda, but not the west. 

"Third, other groups in Tehran are lining up to sideline Ahmadinejad on this issue as they see his tactics getting them into more trouble not less (namely, tactics - they might still agree on the overall strategy, i.e what the end goal of the program is) and he is trying to preempt their initiatives," Parsi said. 

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran has repeatedly said that it was prepared to negotiate with a group P5+1. But Tehran will not discuss the issue of peaceful nuclear program, the development of which is the inalienable right of the Islamic Republic.

Barzegar said new negotiations wiil be a continuation of last year's talks in Vienna and Geneva. "It will be a comprehensive talk with a focus of course on the fuel swap something like Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal," he believes.

Cansiz said that all the issues relating to Iran's nuclear program will be discussed during a new round of talks between Iran and Western countries.

E. Ostapenko, D. Khatinoglu and T. Jafarov contributed to the article.

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