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News | Iran Demands Relief from Sanctions; West: 'Stop, Shut, Ship'

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI

19 Jun 2012 18:35Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

BagheriCellphone.jpg11:30 p.m. IRDT, 30 Khordad/June 19 The second day of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) plus Germany -- came to an end in Moscow.

Tabnak, a website that is close to Mohsen Rezaei, former chief of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps and current Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, has revealed the details of Iran's counter proposal to the P5+1. During the Baghdad negotiations, the P5+1 complained that Iran's proposed package was vague. (The Telegraph of London reported this more or less along the same lines.) According to Tabnak, this time around, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, provided precise details of the proposal. According to Tabnak, using a power-point presentation, Jalili offered the following as the main pillars of Iran's proposal:

(1) Recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium and Iran will put into effect the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei banning production of nuclear weapons. The ban will be written as a legal and formal document and deposited with the United Nations, hence obligating Iran to its commitment.

(2) Lift the sanctions imposed on Iran in return for Iran's complete cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

(3) Cooperation in the areas of peaceful use of nuclear energy and nuclear safety.

(4) If the first two happen, Iran will take steps to build confidence [in the peaceful nature of uts nuclear program] by limiting the production of enriched uranium at 19.75 percent, and possibly halting it.

(5) Cooperating in non-nuclear and regional problem [solving], including narcotics trafficking and the crises in Bahrain and Syria.

Iran has rejected the West demand, dubbed "stop, shut, and ship," referring to stopping 19.75 percent enrichment, shutting the Fordow enrichment facility near Qom, and shipping out Iran's stockpile of 19.75-percent enriched uranium. The West has also demanded that Iran abide by the UNSC resolutions issued against Iran, essentially saying that Iran must suspend its entire nuclear program. During Tuesday negotiations, Jalili provided detailed explanation of Iran's position, as to why it opposes the three steps.

Apparently, a very important reason for the rejection is that the West has been unwilling to make any major concessions to Iran. Jalili has demanded significant relief from economic sanctions. The Iranian press quoted an unnamed Iranian diplomat saying, "We did not come to Moscow only for discussions. We came to Moscow for a resolution. But we believe the opposite side is not ready to reach a resolution." Ali Bagheri, Jalili's chief deputy, told the reporters, "We elaborated in detail...the illegality of referring Iran's nuclear file to the UNSC and the issuance of UNSC resolutions," referring to Security Council demands that Iran suspend enrichment.

In return for its "stop, shut, ship" proposal, the West has offered only spare parts for the old civilian aircraft that Iran purchased from the West long ago, supply fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, and cooperation in the area of nuclear safety. Reports indicate that while Russia has been trying to mediate between Iran and the United States and its allies, it has tilted toward Iran in the negotiations. Russian and China have strongly opposed any new economic sanctions on Iran. Reports also indicate that the European powers may be willing to make one more concession, namely, not putting into effect the sanctions on insuring oil shipments from Iran to Asian countries.

Bagheri met with Helga Schmid, senior adviser to Catherine Ashton, the EU Foreign Policy Chief who leads the P5+1 delegation to the talks. After meeting with Ashton, Jalili also met with Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister and head of its delegation to the negotiations. This was the second meeting between Jaili and a Russian official.

Describing the negotiations as "sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning," ISNA, the Iranian Students News Agency, reported that the P5+1 is interested in holding a third round of talks later, in order to have more time to study Iran's proposal. China and Kazakhstan have expressed an interest in hosting the next round of negotiations. There are reports that the negotiations may extend to a third day in Moscow. The New York Times reported the same. It quoted Ryabkov as saying, "I don't think anything will break down. We will have a reasonable outcome."

Update: Saeed Jalili and Catherine Ashton both announced that while no date or location has been decided on for the next round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, the following steps have been agreed upon:

On July 3, experts from both sides will meet to discuss the technical details of both sides.

Following that, Ali Bagheri, Jalili's chief deputy, will meet with Helga Schmid, Ashton's senior adviser and the contact person for the P5+1 group.

Then, Ashton and Jalili will speak. If there is enough of an agreement and grounds for further negotiations, a place and date will be set for the next round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.

It appears that the negotiations have come down to who will blink first: Iran by agreeing to halt enriching uranium at 19.75 percent; or the P5+1, by agreeing to some form of sanctions relief for Iran. ISNA quoted an Iranian diplomat as saying, "The outlook of the P5+1 demands must become clear. We need to know at the beginning what they want by the end of the negotiations because Iran does not trust the P5+1 to commit itself to its promises. The necessary condition for [taking] mutual steps [by both sides] is that the steps both sides [are willing to take] become very clear. If cooperation [between the two sides] is to begin, what guarantees are there that they will not end up with the same fate as before?" He was referring to the fact that Iran suspended its entire nuclear program from October 2003 to August 2005, but received nothing in return from Britain, France, and Germany, with which its had negotiated the suspension.

Both sides have a stake in ensuring that negotiations don't break down. With the upcoming U.S. election, the Obama administration does not want to be in a more difficult situation in its confrontation with Iran. The European economy is very fragile, with several of its large economies, including Italy and Spain, in a very tight position. A confrontation with Iran will spike oil prices and lead to a deteriorating state of affairs. Israel has threatened to attack Iran if no progress is made in the negotiations, but it cannot do so alone. Last but not least, the Islamic Republic is under extreme economic and political pressure.

7:35 a.m. IRDT, 30 Khordad/June 19 The first day of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany -- ended on Monday evening in Moscow. According to IRNA, Iran's state news agency, "Just like the previous rounds of talks in Turkey and Iraq, the participating delegations were involved in bilateral talks between the morning and afternoon" formal negotiation sessions. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the first round of talks between Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who leads the P5+1 negotiation team, took about half an hour. The reporters had been provided with video-conferencing access to the meeting, but after a while the feed was cut off.

After the formal talks ended, Jalili also met with Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia's National Security Council and former chief of the FSB, the successor to the KGB. Little was reported on what the two men discussed. But Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, who heads the Russian delegation, told reporters, "The difficulty here is not only quite a distance between the positions but also the sequencing. What comes first, what comes next, what this reciprocity means. It's very complex. The logic of the negotiations is extremely complicated."

The Mehr News Agency, which is owned by the Organization for Islamic Propaganda, reported that "the first day of negotiations is not thought to be positive," despite the fact that Michael Mann, Ashton's chief spokesman, referred to it as "very positive" (see below). According to Mehr, the central problem is that the P5+1 still insists on discussing only its own proposal, submitted to Iran in Baghdad, while Iran wants to cover additional issues. In its proposal, the P5+1 asks Iran to immediately cease uranium enrichment at 19.75 percent, ship out its stockpile of uranium enriched to that level, and shut down the Fordow enrichment site near Qom. In return, Western powers will supply Iran with spare parts for the old aircraft it has acquired from Europe and the United States, and with medical isotopes and fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.

At the end of the Monday negotiations, spokesmen for both sides described the first day's developments to a group of journalists, as reported by ISNA, the Iranian Students News Agency:

Ali Bagheri

BagheriJournos.jpgBagheri, Jalili's principal deputy, told reporters that during the morning session Iran presented its comprehensive proposal to the P5+1 "in accordance with the agreement in Istanbul [on April 14]." Iran insists that according to the agreement the two sides must discuss each others' package of proposal sfor addressing the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, whereas the P5+1 had exhibited a distinct reluctance over the past several weeks to do so, and appeared to be interested only in Iran's response to its proposal.

Bagheri added that "five steps were identified that can advance the negotiations, which are linked together and as a package can lead to real progress. The discussions by the deputies [to the lead negotiators] of both sides, which took place in Geneva, were comprehensive, the result of which was the framework that we presented to the P5+1, which contains five pillars -- the guiding principles that both sides agree on, the goals, the issues, the structure [of the negotiations], and the steps that both sides can take." This is the first time that the location of the meetings between the deputies of the two sides has been publicly disclosed.

Bagheri continued, "In the proposal we have emphasized Iran's right to uranium enrichment, which has always been the case, and the steps that the other sides can make to create transparency and trust for mutual cooperation in the nuclear and nonnuclear arena, which are also Iran's overall framework for its steps.... Dr. Jalili made it clear during the negotiations that the main path for progress in the negotiations is earning the trust of the Iranian nation and an appropriate response [by the West] to Iran's past and current steps for recognition for its nuclear rights."

Bagheri went on to describe the afternoon session. "We explained, based on the United Nations Charter and that of the [International Atomic Energy] Agency, why sending Iran's nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council and the ensuing resolutions against Iran were illegal. At the end of the afternoon session, Mrs. Ashton, representing the six nations [of the P5+1], declared that Iran's proposal and its critique [of the aforementioned actions] will be discussed tomorrow. We hope to receive the response of the other side regarding Iran's proposal and its criticisms."

ISNA reported that an anonymous member of Iran's delegation told its reporter, "If the unilateral sanctions [imposed by the United States and its allies outside the United Nations Security Council resolutions] and the international ones [approved by the UNSC] are not cancelled, and Iran's right to uranium enrichment is not recognized, there will be no agreement in Moscow or beyond. Any type of agreement between Iran and P5+1 in Moscow depends on canceling the unilateral and international sanctions against Iran."

Michael Mann

13910329214718968_PhotoL.jpgAshton's spokesman, Michael Mann, told the reporters that for the first time both sides' views were discussed. Calling the negotiations "tough" and "intense," Mann said that Iran had many questions regarding the P5+1 proposal. "There was engagement," he said. "We will have to wait and see tomorrow, I think, whether they come back with a positive attitude towards our proposals." Mann added that a clear first step for Iran is to engage on the sensitive issue of 19.75 percent enriched uranium.

Asked why the deputies for both sides did not meet after the Baghdad session -- a fact that came in for criticism from the Iranian side Monday -- Mann responded, "The meeting did not take place because Iran's proposal at that time was not acceptable to P5+1." ISNA had previously reported that this line of criticism would be one of Iran's three "strategies" at the Moscow talks.

ISNA quoted an unnamed member of Iran's negotiation team who said that the P5+1's rejection of a deputies' meeting to set the agenda for Moscow meeting had created doubt about the possibility of progress. "The P5+1 wasted a one-month opportunity [to make progress] prior to the Moscow meeting," the unnamed official declared.

Western media reports on negotiations

In a report for the New York Times headlined "No One Budges in Tense Iran Nuclear Negotiations in Moscow," Ellen Barry wrote that the talks "broke no new ground on Monday evening, offering little hope that the negotiations would defuse the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Iran has signaled it may be willing to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, which is considered a technical step short of bomb-grade, but it seeks a weighty political message in return: an acknowledgment from the international community that it has the right to enrich uranium. It is also hoping for a rollback of the tough sanctions by the European Union and the United States scheduled to take effect in the coming weeks, which will further isolate Tehran from world oil and banking markets. Iran received no such assurances on Monday from the six world powers."

In his dispatch, "Iran Nuclear Talks Get Nitty-Gritty in Moscow," Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor reported, "In Moscow today, Iran and world powers began to 'engage' in detail about Iran's nuclear program for the first time, though fundamental differences could prove unbridgeable tomorrow. Such an impasse could jeopardize the diplomatic track and eventually risk another Middle East war. The P5+1 group want Iran to give up its most sensitive uranium enrichment work, close a deeply buried facility, and take steps that will forever keep it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran's response today to that proposal -- first put forward during acrimonious talks in Baghdad last month -- focused on recognition of its 'right' to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and lifting crippling economic sanctions."

Peterson quoted an unnamed Iranian diplomat who said that the morning session was "not good at all," though the afternoon was "better." "Neither side is ready to say what their real points are," according to Peterson's source. "They do not want to be in the position that the other side might guess their cards. Adding to that you could see huge lack of confidence.... [The] P5+1 are not ready to give anything to Iran in response to Iran's steps. [T]hey were here today just to have Iran's response. It seemed that they did not have any clear vision [of] the next steps."

According to an Agence France-Presse dispatch, "Iran and world powers on Monday locked horns in hours of tense talks in Moscow seeking a diplomatic solution to the crisis over Tehran's nuclear program with no breakthrough in sight.... But a member of the Iranian delegation gave a downbeat assessment well into the second session in the afternoon. 'So far the atmosphere is not positive,' he said, adding: 'Setting up the framework [for negotiation] is the main problem.'"

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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