Thursday, June 01, 2006

Iran-U.S. Dialogue

Iran-U.S. Dialogue
Exhaustion of Diplomatic Remedies

Ali-Asghar Kazemi
June 1, 2006


On May 30, 2006
, a day before the meeting of 5+1 foreign ministers in Vienna, the United States ventured to make a last attempt in order to exhaust all conceivable diplomatic remedies before embarking on a U.N. Security Council resolution about Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities.

An official declaration, which was widely publicized by international media, was made by U.S. secretary of State Condollizza Rice regarding the American intention to join EU3 talks with Iran on the condition that this country abandons for good its nuclear enrichment activities in an unambiguous and verifiable manner. The statement also alluded to a number of lip-services to the people of Iran, their great civilization and culture and their rightful enthusiasm for freedom and democracy. The statement clearly distinguished once again between the people and the incumbent regime in Iran.

The five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany will meet on June 1st 2006 in Vienna for the purpose of finalizing a draft resolution containing incentives and punitive measures in order to send a final message to Iran that it should halt all enrichment activities before engaging in any dialogue with the West.

On the other hand, Iranian diplomacy marked a score on the same day by succeeding to adopt a resolution by NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) in Malaysia; warning against any use of force for the purpose of inhibiting Iran’s presumed peaceful nuclear activities. This means that contrary to the American contention, a worldwide consensus does not exist against Iran’s nuclear activities and more than one hundred states opposed to this allegation.

Iranian reaction to the American proposal so far has been rather vague; in the sense that on the one hand they welcomed the initiative for direct negotiations, but at the same time they warned against any precondition. On the other hand, Iranian foreign minister said that there was nothing new in the proposal and resembled not to be impressed by the declaration. Intriguingly, many states praised the United States for its bold initiative and encouraged Iran to seize the opportunity and respond positively to the American offer.

The seemingly American compromising move at this juncture of the nuclear crisis seems to pursue a number of objectives which disregard of Iranian response would be fulfilled. The final aim is to push Iran to the corner and attract Russian and Chinese support for a U.N. Security Council resolution containing incentives and penalties for the Iranian nuclear venture. The prospective scenarios may be one of the followings:

Iran accepts U.S. proposal and halts all its nuclear enrichment activities, while allowing the IAEA to do undeclared verifications all over Iran. This would of course be against all the Iranian officials’ pledge so far concerning their undeniable rights to nuclear enrichment. This acceptance may have negative impacts on the hard-line fundamentalist conservatives who would eventually oppose to such a deal as an ominous disaster to the Islamic regime slogans and ideals. This could lead to the weakening of regime’s grip to power by dividing the society on fundamental issues. This in turn would gradually pave the ground either for the emergence of a much more radical group to power or just the opposite, i.e. the strengthening of reformist-progressive front in line with the West and the United States.

Iran rejects U.S. proposal on the ground that it has nothing to offer and there is no rationale for direct talks if the main issue for negotiation i.e. the already suspended enrichment activities, has been erased ab initio from the agenda. Indeed, the argument seems convincing and perhaps the Americans really were not so serious about their proposal and just wanted to throw some confusion in the equation in order to mislead world opinion about their pretended change in strategy with regard to Iran. In fact, despite the widespread publicity about the American concession to Iran, it does not bring about any tangible change and thus should not be considered as a new strategy. It is rather a tactical shift designed to lay down a trap for Iran which no matter what option it chooses would end up to the same outcome.

On the basis of the above, it seems very unlikely that Iran would go along with the U.S. proposal under the present circumstances. Therefore, it is very probable that the case will be decided upon in the Security Council under chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. We shall wait and see how the issue will develop in the coming days.

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