Dalga Khatinoglu, head of the Trend Persian desk
Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany will hold next talks from 15 to 18 November. There is a great probability that these talks will be held in Vienna. The last round of talks on Iran's nuclear program in a designated format was held in October last year. However, over the last year, the positions of Iran and the West have changed significantly.
At the next meeting, the negotiations will chaired by the representative of Germany, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Secretary General of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Saeed Jalili. According to the spokesman of Iranian Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, the topic of the next discussions will be "a package of proposals" by Iran and the "5 +1" countries. According to him, it is possible that discussions will be conducted on a package of proposals by Iran, or the joint aspects of the package of proposals by the both sides.
In September last year, Iran announced its readiness to negotiate upon a common theme of package of proposals that the country presented to "5 +1" countries (Russia, UK, USA, China, France + Germany), as well as on the restoration of stability in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The U.S. called a priority in the discussions the issue of Iran's nuclear program, stating it would not accept Iran's package of proposals seriously. U.S. has not adopted a package of proposals by Iran. However, the fact the Iranian President was warmly welcomed by people during his visit to Lebanon, the forced visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is still unable to form a government despite seven months have passed since the elections, to Iran and his asking for help, as well as numerous requests to Iran by the U.S., European and Afghan officials to assist in restoring stability in Afghanistan - all these say about the authority of Iran in the region, and that Iran will not back down in discussions with "5 +1" countries.
U.S. special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan said in Rome at a conference on security in Afghanistan that Iran's role is significant in stabilizing the situation in Afghanistan. In fact, certain stabilization of the situation in Iraq is also associated with three rounds of US-Iranian negotiations, which were conducted in 2007 by the ambassadors of these countries. So, the U.S. is well aware of what authority Iran has in the region.
The West demands Iran to join the talks only on the nuclear program, however, hardly Iran will close its eyes to the question of own authority in the region. Plus, the strengthening position of Iran compared with the position of the "5 +1" countries is associated not only with the country's authority in the region. Here also there is a factor that Iran has achieved significant successes in the nuclear sphere over the past year.
In October last year, to provide Amirabad reactor with fuel, the West offered Iran to exchange 1,200 kg 3,5-percent enriched uranium with 120 kg of 20 percent of uranium bars. At that time, Iran had 1,500 kg of low-enriched uranium. According to the recent 30th IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program, the IAEA Secretary General Yukiya Amano said that currently Tehran has 2,800 kg low-enriched uranium. Thus, compared to the previous year, reserves of 3.5 percent uranium of the country has increased almost twice.
Despite that Iran's position prevails over the position of the "5 +1" countries, the UN Security Council has adopted six resolutions against the country, four of which envisage economic sanctions. After the adoption of the last resolution 1929, the economic condition of Iran has deteriorated significantly. At the same time, the adoption of unilateral U.S. and European sanctions against Iran forced major energy organizations to refuse cooperation with this country. 85 percent of Iran's revenues accounted for crude oil and oil products, but over the last year the exports of crude oil also declined by 13 percent.
Iran was able to protect itself from sanctions through a series of actions. So now, instead of Western companies, the Chinese companies are active in Iran's energy sector and their number is rapidly increasing. Iran is able to withstand Western sanctions. The question arises whether the Western countries are capable to bear the growing problems in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine? I believe that for a certain period, Iran can withstand the sanctions of the West. However, the Western countries are forced to look at the "package of proposal" of Iran to get out of the quagmire in which they are mired in the region. Now this "package of proposals" may be a priority for them.