Experts: Neither sanctions nor talks to help Iran out of nuclear impasse

Experts: Neither sanctions nor talks to help Iran out of nuclear impasse

Azerbaijan, Baku, Nov. 3 / Trend T. Konyayeva /

Until the Iranian regime changes its approach to the negotiations about its nuclear program, or the West revises its Iranian strategy, neither new talks nor sanctions will help to resolve the current political crisis over Tehran's nuclear intiativies, experts believe.

Iran is ready to start talks with Europe and the 5+1 group if the talks will help them to have their uranium enrichment program accepted and legitimized. However, the EU is not prepared to accept such a proposal. They know in advance that talks with Iran under normal circumstances will not succeed. Therefore, they are pursuing their so-called "smart diplomacy." With smart diplomacy, they keep the door to negotiations open and also increase pressure on Iran, Professor Reza Taghizadeh, Trend Expert Council member, wrote Trend in an e-mail.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said last weekend that Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili agreed to begin talks with the six sides (five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) on the Iranian nuclear program after Nov. 10.

Later, the Iranian Supreme National Security Council confirmed its readiness to negotiate.

Europe thinks that Iran could only comply with its demands under the serious threat of a military attack or an economic breakdown. However, as they are not in a position to attack Iran right now, they have focused on increasing economic and political pressure against Tehran, he said.

In July, EU leaders and foreign ministers proposed additional sanctions against Iran at a meeting in Brussels. The limitations included freezing investments in the country's oil and gas sector, and banning the transfer and provision of industrial technologies and equipment and specialized services. Moreover, the measures include restrictions on trade and banking, and a ban on a number of Iranian officials to enter the EU.

All of the EU's foreign ministers approved imposing additional sanctions against Iran at a meeting in Luxembourg on Oct. 5.

"Pursuing such diplomacy will not encourage Tehran to rush to the negotiation table with the EU, but this approach also has no risks involved and is not costly to Europe," the professor said. "They are well aware that Iran is not going to yield in a foreseeable future anyway, even if they agree go to the negotiation table."

The applied pressures of the United States and the EU have aimed to find a final solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff by breaking down the regime's resistance, and not by giving them gifts or talking nicities with them, he said.

Meanwhile, Professor Meir Litvak at Tel-Aviv University's Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies said that he does not think that the sanctions will force Iran to completely surrender its nuclear program.

Sanctions have two important goals, he said. The first is to force at least some of the Iranian elite to consider taking a more flexible approach to the negotiations, he said.

Such negotiations, if successful, will delay or slow down the Iranian drive toward nuclear capability, Litvak added. 

Moreover, the sanctions are designed to cause hardships for the regime - again in the hope that it will be forced to divert its attention, efforts and resources to economic instead of nuclear issues, he said.

At the same time, Said Yari, an expert on nuclear issues, Jalili and Ashton will discuss common proposals for both sides, as Iran already answered the IAEA's five questions about the so-called "Modal Program" in 2008-2009.

"If negotiations begin within the proposals put forward by Iran last year, then I believe that they will be encouraging," Yari told Trend over phone from Tehran.

In July 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama urged Iran to respond by September to the proposal of the six countries, which stipulated a refusal from further nuclear research for exchange to trade preferences. Iran responded by submitting a package of proposals relating to world nuclear energy and other global challenges.

Later, Iran's negotiations with the six countries were suspended 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.

The West does not hope for any progress within these proposals. It strives for Iran to adopt its concerns about the nuclear program, Yari said.

"The West conducts a paradoxical policy regarding Iran's nuclear program," he added. "They showed an interest in negotiating with Iran, but then they tightened their sanctions against the country. The West must sit at the table to hold negotiations, but not exert pressure. Iran's nuclear program is a strategic project. To stop it by exerting pressure is absurd."

The U.N. Security Council adopted another resolution, which provides for new sanctions against Tehran in connection with its refusal to cease uranium enrichment on June 9. About 12 members of the council voted for Resolution No. 1929, and two non-permanent members - Turkey and Brazil - voted against the initiative. Lebanon abstained. This is the fourth resolution adopted by the council due to Tehran's unwillingness to comply with international requirements concerning the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran's nuclear standoff with the West looks very much like the Arab-Israeli conflict - lots of efforts by all sides and still no quick fix or solution, Taghizadeh said.

The Iranian nuclear issue is multidimensional and looking at it from only one side does not give you a complete picture of the problem, he said.

D. Khatinoglu contributed to this article.

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