Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Background to Istanbul Talks

The talks on Iran’s nuclear program between the world’s major powers and Iran will resume tomorrow in Istanbul. The talks take place amid speculations that a deal is in the making. The background and the issues at the negotiating table:

1. In 2009, the IAEA brokered a swap agreement between the two sides. Iran was to send abroad 1,200 kg of low enriched uranium (LEU), counting for more than two thirds of its LEU inventory at the time, for re-enriching to 20% purity in Russia and turning it into fuel rods and assemblies in France, which would be shipped to Iran for use in its nuclear research reactor in Tehran.

2. The IAEA brokered deal fell apart when politicians in Tehran, mainly the right, opposed the deal, regarding it as a capitulation of Iran’s sovereignty and its rights to enrich uranium on its soil. The Iranian government had to back down from the deal.

3. The West favored the deal as it saw the surrounder of the two-thirds of LEU inventory by Iran would have prevented it from building a nuclear weapon.

4. In the period following the breakdown of the brokered deal, Iran has multiplied its LEU inventory and has enriched uranium to 20% purity. Amid signs that Iran is ready to revive the 2009 deal, the West is insisting that the volume of the LEU to be transferred abroad from Iran should increase to account for the much higher volume in the country's current inventory. Iran has at least publicly balked at the idea.

5. Iran is demanding, and the West is ready to oblige, the ending of all UN, US and EU sanctions against Iran if a deal can be worked out in Istanbul.

6. Iran is also demanding that the broader political issues and problems between Iran and the West be put on the agenda during the talks, and as part of any nuclear deal those issues addressed as well. Among Iran’s demands are assurances by the West that it will not use military force against the country and it will not be involved or encourage a regime change in Iran. The West has been, at least publicly, non-commital on these demands.


Anonymous said...

This is a skewed narrative, Nader. It should read:

2. The IAEA brokered deal was agreed in principal but Tehran required guarantees the fuel would actually be delivered. Many compromise offers were put forward by Tehran but the West offered only a "take it or leave it" approach without guarantees.

3. The West favored its "take it or leave it" approach without guarantees so that it could potentially ransom the LEU stock provided by Iran, as a means of extracting further concessions from Iran such as a full suspension of enrichment activities.

4. Iran finally received the guarantees it was seeking by signing the Tehran Declaration with Brazil and Turkey, but the US torpedoed the deal (even though Obama had given Turkey and Brazil the green light beforehand) exposing the US' negotiating in bad faith over the deal.

7. Iran insists the NPT provides it with the right to the full nuclear cycle, including enrichment and the production of fuel. This position is supported by NAM, G77 and the OIC, i.e. the majority of nations in the international community.

Anonymous said...

It was the sorry losers US and its little lapdog UK that scuttled the Brazilian and Turkish initiative on seeking a diplomatic solution to this Zionist sponsored storm in a teacup.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if "wikileaks" and the insane "Debka" ladies in the low rent Tel-Aviv slum are in cahoots:

WikiLeaks cables: Iran has cleared major hurdle to nuclear weapons and Tehran has 'technical ability' to make highly enriched uranium, say experts, as efforts turn to disrupting supply of other materials"....
The revelation comes as nuclear talks resume between Iranian officials and representatives of six world powers in Istanbul tomorrow. Expectations of compromise are low.

Not all western governments share the US conclusion, but if true it suggests international sanctions have failed to deny Iran the know-how required to make a nuclear bomb. The production of HEU is generally agreed to be the most serious obstacle any aspiring nuclear state must overcome.

Diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to curb its programme have also failed to produce results. In the days running up to the two-day meeting in Istanbul, Iranian officials have repeated they will not bow to UN security council demands to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran insists its programme is entirely peaceful and recently opened its facilities to foreign diplomats.

Nader Uskowi said...

Anon 5:32 PM,

Thanks for the comments. The IAEA brokered deal was accepted by Iran's representatives in the talks who had cleared it with the government. It was mainly the right that derailed it for political purposes, under the guise of lack of guarantees. If the government thought the agreement did not have guarantees, it would not have approved it on the first place.

However, that's in the past and I am sure historians will debate the two narratives coming out of those talks. Let's see what happens today and tomorrow in Istanbul. I personally do not believe that a firm decision or agreement will be reached now, but this meeting might be the most important of all previous ones and the chances are that it would provide the final push for a meeting to produce final agreement, in Brazil or in Tehran. What's your take?

Anonymous said...

With the new FM and Nuclear negotiator both formidable persons, Iran has better chance to better get it's message across. The previous FM was a bumbling fool. It is no point in being fluent in Farsi it is English which is the negotiating language. Maybe we should have a one to one debate between Ms Clinton and Salehi. Is Uskowi on some fiat currency these days!