Six-nations talks with Iran about its nuclear program have started in Istanbul.
The last such talks, also held in Istanbul, ended without progress in January 2011.
UPDATE: After two sessions, it was agreed that further talks will be held on May 23 — in Baghdad. [For those of us with memories of the Iran-Iraq war, this is very wierd.]
Now, these talks are being held under the threat of a possible Israeli military attack to stop Iran before it develops nuclear weapons. Israeli officials have recently suggested, however, that a strike may not be needed before 2013.
The six nations facing Iran are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council [the U.S., Russia, China, France, and Britain, who are the only countries in the world with the veto power to stop any resolution at the UN Security Council, and who also just so happen to be the world’s only officially recognized and “legitimate” nuclear powers, according to the NPT Treaty] — plus Germany. For this reason, the talks are often called “P5+1” talks with Iran.
The EU’s Catherine Ashton [white jacket] talking with Turkey’s FM Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul on Saturday morning as talks with Iran about its nuclear program got underway
Germany is included because of the great interest it showed for this process in the early 2000s, when one of Iran’s chief nuclear negotiators, Hossein Mousavian, was also Ambassador to Berlin.
European officials prefer to refer to these “P5+1” talks instead as “E3+3” talks — meaning three European powers [Germany, France, and Britain] plus three others [U.S., Russia, China].
U.S. President Obama has also made Israeli officials happy recently by saying that he will not tolerate Iranian nuclear weaponization.
Over two years ago, Israeli analysts at the Tel Aviv-based INSS [Institute for National Security Studies] said that Iran would not pose an “existential threat” to Israel when it was on the threshold of being able to put a nuclear weapon together — as it apparently is now. Nor would Iran not be an “existential threat” when it had one nuclear weapon, or when it tested a nuclear weapon. Iran would need 4 to 8 nuclear weapons assembled and ready-to-use, the experts said, to be an “existential threat” — because it would need a second-strike capability. That means, if Iran fires first, and Israel retaliates, Iran would need to be able to hit back. Nuclear-weapon-armed submarines, capable of sailing far from their home bases, are one of the factors that show a second-strike capability”.
Iranian officials have said they have no intention of making or ever using nuclear weapons — which one senior cleric has called “satanic”.
The Iranian delegation that arrived in Istanbul yesterday said they hoped both sides would be prepared to present “new intitiatives”.
A U.S. Defense Official testified to the International Court of Justice in the mid-1990s, in a case brought against nuclear weapons, that contrary to the argument that nuclear weapons are too dangerous to use, America in fact uses its nuclear weapons every day, on a daily basis — as a deterrent to attack.
Though Iran has argued that it is developing its nuclear energy and medical capacity out of national necessity as well as its national, sovereign right to do so. However, having the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon, if it wanted, elevates Iran to the status of major regional power — and it also acts as a powerful deterrent to attacks.
Robert Nariman wrote in Huffington Post, here, that “There are four reasons for Iran to have a nuclear program, srtated and not-so-stated:  energy,  medical isotopes,  national prestige, and  deterring a U.S. or Israeli attack … In particular, a perverse benefit of all the warmongering against Iran is that every time U.S. officials counter the warmongering by saying that a military strike against Iran would be counterproductive because it would drive the Iranians towards nuclear weaponization, it underscores the fact that Iran derives important national security benefits from enrichment without ever needing to crack a textbook on weaponization, nor enrich to 20 percent, nor build a deeper tunnel. If I’m an official in Iran’s enrichment program, every time a U.S. official says that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear program would be counterproductive to U.S. interests, I get a little bit more convinced that I’m never going to need to try to build a nuclear weapon to protect my country from military attack”.
However, expectations are said to be low all around. Sanctions against Iran, imposed bilaterally in addition to three rounds agreed by the UN Security Council, will not be lifted anytime soon — unless Iran completely stops its uranium enrichment, which Iran has said it is unwilling to do.
The stated aim of the six-nations, as determined by leaks from American and European officals to major American media last weekend, might possibly be some temporary suspension of Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment program that produces nuclear fuel rods of the degree needed to run the Tehran Research Reactor in order to produce domestic medical isotopes for medical treatment including against cancer. Iran succeeded in successfully managing this 20%-enrichment technology in 2010. The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Program has suggested that this production could be suspended — but only once Iran’s “needs” are met.
But, Iranian officials have made it clear, for years, that they could nave no faith in international promises to supply enriched uranium for its nuclear reactors, in light of the 30-year history of freezing of assets, confiscation of aircraft and civilian aircraft parts, and other sanctions that have been imposed non-stop ever since Iran’s Islamic Revolution.