Thursday, May 24, 2012

Arlene Kushner On The Failure Of Nuclear Talks With Iran

From Arlene Kushner:

May 24, 2012

"And Here We See It"

It: the absolute intransigence, the lack of good intentions, the ultimate malevolence of Iran.

Today in Baghdad, the Iranians rejected a proposal that had been put forward by P5 + 1.  What was being sought by the international community was a cessation of enrichment of uranium to 20% (not even all enrichment!).  In return Iran would have received benefits such as medical isotopes and spare parts that Iran needs for its for civilian airliners.

But what Iran wanted was the easing of economic sanctions on Iranian oil export in return for Iranian pledges that UN inspectors would be permitted wider inspection of their facilities.  (Remember: agreeing to permit inspections is not agreeing to halt the process towards nuclear capability.)


The Iranians are saying that world powers are making the atmosphere "difficult." 

And my favorite accusation, coming from Iranian al-Alam TV:
"The discourse of the six powers during the talks is very similar to that of Israel's prime minister and his defense minister."
If, at all, it may be true that the stance of the negotiating nations is tougher because of Israel's position, this is a blessing.  Not because the tougher stance might have positive results, but rather because it exposes Iranian intentions.


One can trace a line from the situation that the world powers who are now negotiating find themselves in backwards to the conciliatory stance offered to Iran over the last few years by the Obama administration and the Europeans.

Obama's "I-don't-want-to-appear-aggressive, rather-I-reach-my-hand-out-to-you-so-we-can-achieve-dialogue" approach delivered the message that the US was going to be a pushover. 

One Iranian diplomat, cited by YNet today, said that the package that had been offered fell short of a "compromise."

A compromise??  Excuse me?  Thinking is seriously out of line here.


Before today's negotiating session had been held, Iran's media were putting out messages of optimism and reflecting the attitude that they had "a strong negotiating position."  Greatest criticism was directed at the US Congress, which, in proposing tougher sanctions, "was not giving a good message which shows they are not yet ready to show good will....

"Some have mistakenly thought that if they pressure Iran, Iran will give up."  Translation: you cannot defeat us with your sanctions.


Iran is the greatest danger to world peace in the world today. The greatest purveyor of terrorism.  It is on the edge of achieving nuclear capacity, has said it will destroy Israel, and would, if nuclear, create a shield around renegade groups and nations. Not incidentally, it also want to come after America.

And the world believes it can negotiate with Iran's leaders.  The world, incredibly, still imagines that giving something to Iran in good spirit will move it towards a less belligerent, more cooperative stance.

But Iran understands only an iron fist.  There should be no compromise, no gift-giving.  Rather, a message: "We consider you a threat to all we represent. Cease and desist or we blow your heads off.  You decide." Diplomatically said, of course.


An IAEA report now says that Iran recently installed 350 additional centrifuges in the Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility near Qom. This is while Iran is supposed to be in the course of negotiations

This is how it is, folks.

In spite of the failure of the current talks, parties have agreed to meet again in Geneva, Switzerland in mid-June.  What this means is that from now until mid-June the Iranians can sail along, uninhibited in their progress towards nuclear capacity. 

Declared on US official, "We think we still have some time for diplomacy."  Some optimism was expressed that the pace of the talks would "pick up."

Not every official in the US is this obtuse or self-deluding.  This eager to pretend that negotiations work.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and Independent Joe Lieberman, in an op-ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, declared,. "The U.S. must be prepared, if necessary, to use military force to stop Iran from getting a nuclear-weapons capability."  

But unfortunately these gentlemen are not running the country.


Said Israel's Minister of Security Affairs Bogie Ya'alon:
"As long as the centrifuges are spinning, we will not remain calm."  In the end, he observed, if all other methods for trying to stop Iran fail, "someone may have to launch a military strike on Iran." 


Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has written a powerful piece on this issue that merits serious attention here (emphasis added): 
"It’s no longer possible to pretend we don’t know the intentions of Iran’s rulers. They keep telling us, candidly, clearly and repeatedly. Most recently on Sunday: Addressing a gathering in Tehran, Maj. Gen Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, vowed the 'full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end.'

"A few days earlier, during a presentation at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a respected Israeli think tank, the former Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, recalled a 'private discussion' in Tehran in October 2000 with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who told him: 'Israel must be burned to the ground and made to disappear from the face of the Earth.'

"...Khamenei also told Aznar that the goal of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 has remained unchanged — to rid the world of two evils: Israel and the U.S. Eventually, there must be an 'open confrontation.' Khamenei said it was his duty to ensure that Iran prevailed.

"With this as context, it is no longer possible to pretend that the acquisition of nuclear weapons is not a priority for Khamenei. The notion that he is merely making — as Reuters has charmingly phrased it — 'a peaceful bid to generate electricity,' or has not decided whether he wants nuclear weapons, or wants them only as a deterrent because he fears foreign aggression, or has issued a fatwa declaring possession of nuclear weapons a sin, or favors diplomatic conflict resolution but requires a series of 'confidence-building measures' is wishful thinking and self-delusion, if not blatant disinformation.

"...Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week, Mark Dubowitz, my colleague at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, warned Congress that Iran’s negotiators would offer concessions that sound meaningful, but are not, in exchange for Western concessions that sound trivial but amount to capitulation.

"Dubowitz cautioned that it will require vigorous Congressional oversight to make sure that Western diplomatsdo not provide Iran with 'sanctions relief in the shadows,' meaning that insurance, energy, financial and shipping-related sanctions that have already passed into law will fail to be strictly enforced to keep 'the process' going. That will be seen as preferable to acknowledging diplomatic failure. The major media are likely to miss this, or misreport it.

"In his presentation in Jerusalem, Aznar recalled also a meeting he had with Vladimir Putin, in which he advised the Russian president against selling surface-to-air missiles to Iran. 'Don’t worry, I, you, we can sell them everything, even if we are worried by an Iranian nuclear bomb,' Aznar quoted Putin as saying. 'Because, at the end of the day, Israel will take care of it.'

"Aznar told this story in Washington about a year ago but at the time asked those of us in the room to keep it off the record. I remember that he added incredulously: 'But that’s the Russian policy? To let Israel take care of it?'

"If, in the days ahead, this becomes the de facto policy of the U.S. and Europe as well, we should not pretend we don’t know, or that we don’t understand the profound implications of that."

© Arlene KushnerThis material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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