Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 6
By Claude Salhani - Trend:
Iran has the right to operate a civil nuclear program, but not a military one, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, as he met with his French counterpart ahead of a crucial round of talks over Tehran's nuclear activities, the WSJ reported.
"They have a right to a peaceful program, but not a track to a bomb," Kerry said.
Chances of a deal before November 24 are very thin, believes Sami Nader, professor of international relations at St Joseph University, in Beirut.
"The gap between the two sides is still wide," he said. "While the West is considering the issue on a technical ground, focusing on reducing the numbers of reactors, the level of enrichment, and level of transparency (number of sites and full access for UN controllers) etc. Iran's approach is different."
"It is less technical and more 'ideological' advanced argument such as this or that demand touches Iran's 'dignity' and therefore is unacceptable," he said. "In my view Iran realizes that the nuclear issue is a master card that pushed it into first place on the international scene, on a par with the big powers. This is why their best strategy is "negotiation but no deal."
"One similar to that of chairman Mao's dealing with the Americans," he said.
The professor's third point is that the recent US elections came up with two Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He went on to say that both of the presidents wanted a deal, however now they're pressured on their right by - presidential guard in Iran and the winning Republican Party in the USA.
On his part, Bill Lawrence, professor of international relations at George Washington University thinks "it is positive that Kerry wants a deal, but announcing that he wants a deal quickly indicates a possible frustration with 11th hour Iranian negotiating positions".
"Both sides are seeking a deal in part because of the changed context in the region necessitating a U.S.-Iranian rapprochement (including but not limited to the 'Islamic State' terrorist group).
He went on to say that sometimes it so happens that the negotiations collapse right before a deal, but while the differences are eminently resolvable, public statements by both sides, rather than silence, indicate that each side may be preparing the public narrative for "what happened" if the negotiations fail.
Iran and the P5+1 will hold the next round of nuclear negotiations in Omani capital city of Muscat on Nov.11. A trilateral meeting of Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, US Secretary of State John Kerry and outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is also scheduled for Nov. 9-10 in the same city.
Zarif, Kerry and Ashton had trilateral meetings on Oct. 14-16 and discussed disputed issues such as uranium enrichment extent, ways of lifting imposed sanctions and duration of the agreement.
Last November, Iran and the P5+1 clinched an interim nuclear accord, which took effect on Jan. 20 and expired six months later. However, the parties agreed to extend their talks until Nov. 24 as they remained divided on a number of key issues.