Kazakhstan Meeting between the P5+1 and Iran

Like many, I have been quite pleasantly surprised and heartened by the relatively positive reports coming out of the meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in Almaty, Kazakhstan this week.  It does appear that there has been some sense and prudence displayed among the P5+1 in actually making some meaningful concessions in the kinds of sanctions relief they are now putting on the table. This could well be the first step toward a diplomatic resolution of the current crisis, if – and this is a big if – both sides can continue displaying good sense, pragmatism and positivity. We know from sad experience in this and other diplomatic contexts that auspicious beginnings often produce disappointing results. On this subject, see this insightful analysis by Paul Pillar.

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13 Comments on “Kazakhstan Meeting between the P5+1 and Iran”

  1. I wouldn’t hold my breath. This conflict was never about the nuclear issue per se, which was always merely a pretext for another policy: imposing regime-change in Iran. And THOSE fundamentals have not resolved themselves yet. If anything, the US side is waiting to see what happens in Syria.

    • Don Bacon says:

      Ayatollah Khamenei also knows this.

      Feb 21, 2013
      Khamenei Calls U.S. Policy Toward Iran ‘Irrational’ – Direct Talks ‘Futile’

      “They expect others to give in to their illogical demands and bullying. Some do so… But the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic cannot be forced into surrender. The Islamic Republic has argument and logic; it’s capable and powerful. Hence, it will not accept illogical words and actions. In what way are the American officials irrational? A sign that shows they are irrational is the contradictions between what they preach and what they practice.”

      “The American officials claim they are committed to nuclear non-proliferation, which provided the pretext for their invasion of Iraq eleven years ago. They said the Saddam regime was developing nuclear bombs in Iraq. They unearthed no weapons in that country and it became manifest that their claim was a lie. They say they are committed to nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. In the meantime, they support an evil regime, which is armed with nuclear bombs and makes threats [against others] with the weapons, that is, the Zionist regime. That’s what they preach and this is how they practice.”
      http://www.uskowioniran.com/2013/02/khamenei-calls-us-policy-toward-iran.html

      So the talks will go on, and on, . . .

    • Don Bacon says:

      There’s no “green light” for an Israeli attack on Iran in the draft resolution. There’s a “sense of congress” that the US would support Israel “in its defense of its territory, people, and existence. ” And it finishes with “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization for the use of force or a declaration of war. ” In other words, it’s nothing new, even if it were to become law.
      http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/graham-menendez-iran-resolution.pdf

      • yousaf says:

        Perhaps better to term it “non-sense of congress”.

      • Let’s not be naive here. If Congress wants a resolution that says the US WILL attack Iran militarily IF Israel attacks Iran “in self-defense”, it means Congress wants the US to attack Iran if Israel provides the US with the excuse.

        Does anyone here think Iran is going to attack Israel and Israel will then have to attack Iran “in self-defense”?

        That’s like the old saw that says if you leave bees alone, they will leave you alone. The problem is it’s up to the bee to decide if he’s being “bothered”.

        Israel has repeatedly declared that any attack on Iran would be “self-defense.” This resolution is intended to make it easier for the US to JOIN the attack.

  2. Rene says:

    I was also heartened initially, but I’m utterly confused by Congress preparing another bill for sanctions on the same day: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/world/middleeast/lawmakers-offer-bill-to-toughen-iranian-sanctions.html

    Does anyone have an analysis of this? Does the new bill mean Congress increases sanctions if Iran rejects the current offer of P5+1, or is Congress going to increase sanctions no matter what? And if the latter is the case, doesn’t that entirely undermine the negotiations?

    • yousaf says:

      Yes, read the comment below Pillar’s post:

      ================
      hass (March 1, 2013 – 2:12pm)
      Paul Pillar unfortunately draws a false parallel between the Iranians and US sides in the nuclear negotiations. If the Iranians think that the US is using the negotiations as merely a pretext and distraction for a policy of regime change, they indeed have quite a bit of justification (in fact non-Iranian parties have concluded the same, to wit IAEA director Elbaradei who said that the US-EU were only interested in “Regime change, by any means necessary” http://news.antiwar.com/2011/04/20/elbaradei-us-europe-werent-interested-in-compromise-with-iran/ )However, on the other side, there is no real concern in the US that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. In fact the conclusion of the 16 (now 17) US intelligence agencies from 2007 has been endorsed again as late as 2012. So Pillar’s statement that “major body of opinion in the United States holds that Tehran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons” is simply not the case. The people who make that claim are 1- not a “major body” but are in fact a highly vocal and well-placed minority and furthermore 2- there is no evidence at all to justify their claims about Iranian nuclear weapons ambitions, and 3- they’ve made it quite clear that they do NOT want a US-Iran rapprochement, and so are making a fuss about a non-existient nuclear weapons program in order to prevent/derail negotiations. They’re just making it up for the sake of Israel.Anyone who looks back on the history of this standoff can see that the Iranians repeatedly offered compromises well beyond any legal obligation imposed on them by the NPT, and at every step the US either ignored or actively undermined opportunities to resolve this standoff peacefully. Just look at the Turkey-Brazil brokered uranium swap deal, that the Obama administration killed at the last moment, AFTER Iran had said “yes”
      ==================

      Also, in my recent NI piece, see the last page:

      http://nationalinterest.org/print/commentary/make-tehran-serious-offer-8120

      QUOTE===========

      In some ways, it seems we are back to early 1950s in dealing with Iran. Ray Takeyh in reviewing Ervand Abrahamian’s new book, The Coup: 1953, the CIA and the Roots of Modern US–Iranian Relations, for the journal Survival, mentions [25] that Abrahamian’s historical research reveals that:

      “. . . the British Empire was hardly prone to concede to an Iranian government reclaiming its oil fields, and was all along plotting the overthrow of the impudent premier. Whitehall viewed Mossadegh’s nationalisation as not just an infringement of its prerogatives in Iran but as an act that could potentially endanger all of its considerable overseas assets. Mossadegh had to go, and diplomacy was a mere ruse to achieve that end. In this narrative, London never really sought an accommodation with Tehran, but was merely going through the ritual of diplomacy to ensure a broadbased coalition against an embattled Mossadegh.”

      It appears, again—that just as in the early 1950s—the P5+1 is now “merely going through the ritual of diplomacy to ensure a broadbased coalition against an embattled” Iranian regime.

      There appears to be a striking cognitive dissonance between the pronouncements of the alleged mortal threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program and the foot-dragging approach to doing something about it in negotiations.

      ============

    • Don Bacon says:

      Congress, taking direction from AIPAC, will increase sanctions no matter what. AIPAC in turn is a creature of Israel, which doesn’t believe negotiations can be productive (a position I share). The concocted Iran “nuclear crisis” from Israel’s standpoint is mainly to draw attention from its rape of Palestine, and in this it has been an obvious success. So the “crisis” is intended to endure.

      Also SecState Kerry is in Turkey announcing more aid to Syria terrorists, Syria being an Iran ally, as well as promoting better Turkey-Israel relations, also anti-Iran.

      Hey, on the bright side Obama is slated to be awarded the “Presidential Medal of Distinction” in Israel this month, the first US president to be so honored. So Obama will have his knee-pads on. Look for a(nother) rabble-rousing anti-Iran speech.

      • yousaf says:

        I am not an expert in this, but believe AIPAC is more a creature of Likud (and even further right), than of Israel. Many Israelis I know would not support the views of AIPAC.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    from The Iran Project:

    At a stormy IAEA board meeting in November, Iran’s envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh said that no “smoking gun” had ever been found and that the West wants to hijack the IAEA for its own ends.

    The US envoy shot back that Washington would seek in March to convince the IAEA board to report Iran to the UN Security Council if no “substantive cooperation” had begun over the IAEA’s probe.

    But in view of apparent tentative progress made at talks in Kazakhstan last Tuesday and Wednesday between Iran and six world powers, the United States and its allies in Vienna appear to have rowed back from this threat.

    http://theiranproject.com/blog/2013/03/02/iran-new-amano-term-in-focus-at-iaea-meeting/

    So the planted stories about “progress” and a “turning point” indicate that the world powers want the concocted “crisis” pot to simmer but not boil over, not just yet anyhow. (Again, there is no legal (treaty) authority for the IAEA to “probe” anything. This agency’s only legal authority is to insure non-diversion, which in Iran it has continually done.)

  4. The US AND Israel doesn’t want an Iran war – YET. The operative word is YET.

    They need to take out Syria and Hizballah’s missile arsenals first. So this is merely to delay the Iran war a bit until that can be achieved.

    It’s also to provide another check in the box that says “we tried diplomacy”.

    Note that what Biden said at AIPAC was that “this time” the US wants it to “be clear” that it tried everything before going to war as it did in Iraq. That’s about as clear as it gets.

    He also said it was in the US “naked self-interest” to support Israel and prevent Iran from getting nukes. Of course what he meant was HIS and OBAMA’s “naked self-interest” in keeping the Israel Lobby off their necks.


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