Russia's mediation; will Iran bury the hatchet?
Head of the Trend Persian Desk Dalga Khatinoglu
Russian Foreign Minister Segey Lavrov proposed 'step-by-step' plan to resolve Iran's nuclear problem two weeks ago during his tour of the U.S.
This plan was surprisingly refuted by Iranian president, but was welcomed by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
Lavrov says each step by Tehran towards the IAEA's concerns should be rewarded by freezing some sanctions or shortening the volume of sanctions.
Russia has proposed several plans to solve the Iranian nuclear disputation so far. It included a proposal of forming international nuclear fuel bank at Angarsk site with Iran's participation or the proposal of shifting Iran's low-enriched uranium to Russia for making 20-percent enriched nuclear fuel bar for the reactor of Tehran's Amirabad nuclear research center and others, which failed.
On the other hand, the West countries have also made attractive proposals, including economic aids and launching light water nuclear power plants for Iran instead of halting enrichment of uranium and transparency of its nuclear activities. Iran says the "carrot and stick" policy never works and its nuclear activities are Iranians' "national pride".
Russia's 'step-by-step' plan implies nothing new compared to the West's.
However, Russia seems to be too serious this time, despite its previous unsuccessful attempts, with a proposal, which puts Iran at a crossroads: turning to negotiations with the world major powers or keeping the old grandiloquent position and ambitions.
Why does Russia choose time for proposals right now?
According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran's GDP growth is zero for current year.
All giant energy companies have left Iran because of four rounds of UN Security Council and the U.S. sanctions against Iran. Meanwhile, Iran can't receive its $5 billion in payment for oil export to India because of sanctions. In addition, Ahmadinejad's plan to remove subsides for commodities and energy products was fell short of his expectations.
According to Iran's general budget for current solar year (which started on March 21, 2011), the government will save $54 billion during this solar year as a result of removing subsides. Half of this sum ($27 billion) would be transferred to citizens' bank accounts (44$ per each citizen), 30 percent go to industry sector and 20 percent to the government's current expenditures.
Meanwhile, the government said it transferred $21 billion only during the first half of year to citizens' bank account.
Ahmadinejad had to borrow $5 billion from Central Bank of Iran to transfer to citizens' bank account.
Russia may suppose that Iran faced economic disasters and it would be more flexible and vulnerable than ever to accept Moscow's new proposals.
However, Iranian authorities know better than anyone that the west countries' demands are not restricted with Iran's nuclear program. There other issues of 'concern', which include human right abusing in Iran, and having allies in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine that are recognized as terrorist groups by the West, which are pending for their resolution after Iran's nuclear problem is addressed.
Iran and the West have many issues of disagreements. Therefore, it would be so naive to encourage Iran to withdraw from its nuclear ambitions.