After some interesting moves over the past week, the positioning ahead of the 6-nation talks with Iran about its nuclear program is getting tedious.
The “P5+1” talks with Iran [or, as the Europeans prefer to call them, “P3+3”] countries — Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia, and the U.S. — will be held either on the 13th or the 14th, and apparently in Istanbul after all.
Whoever is responsible for the Twitter account of Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu sent out two Tweets this morning with a maximalist position that is a bit off-message, compared to the more nuanced positions that Israeli military and diplomatic sources have been explaining for days. Here are the two Tweets:
- [The PM of Israel] @IsraeliPM: Iran must stop all enrichment of uranium, both 20% and 3% and move all enriched material out of its territory – [1/2]
[The PM of Israel] @IsraeliPM: It is possible to give Iran alternative material for peaceful purposes. It must also dismantle the illegal facility in Qom– [2/2]
The main Iranian concern, which has never been addressed in the negotiations over its nuclear program, is how it can believe, after thirty years of sanctions due to its Islamic Revolution that have only been increasingly tightened in recent years, it can ever have confidence that an external source of the enriched uranium it will need for its civilian nuclear energy program [and also for the Tehran Research Reactor that will produce domestically-needed medical isotopes to treat cancer, for example] will not be subject at some point to sanctions that will interrupt supplies of enriched uranium.
It is for this express reason that Iran says it has embarked on self-sufficiency for its nuclear program.
But, this concern has been consistently brushed aside, or addressed in the most minimal and condescending terms.
Iran’s behavior is regarded with suspicion in the West — and, importantly, by Israel, which is still contemplating possible military action to remove any Iranian nuclear capability that might be used to construct nuclear weapons.
Iran is suspected of trying to hide an intention to covertly develop of nuclear weapons.
An opinion piece in one Israeli newspaper suggested Sunday that it now appears, however, that Iran and Israel are indirectly negotiating… Amir Oren wrote in Haaretz that “Essentially, indirect negotiations are taking place between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the one hand, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the other. In the absence of a direct channel of dialogue (as far as is known, and perhaps not all is known), the Israeli side’s negotiator is U.S. President Barack Obama … All of this is happening on the eve of elections, with Obama preventing Israel from acting until the negotiations are exhausted”. This is posted here.
According to Oren’s analysis, there are, going into the talks, two weaknesses in the American opening position, as it is known from the media [see our post yesterday]: “First, no side can expect to take away from the negotiations all of the things it sought at the beginning … [and, the related point that] the Iranians will present their own demands”.