As its name denotes, an agreement is a complicated issue which should be dealt with in a suitable opportunity and in due time. Therefore, no negotiations aimed at achieving an agreement can be expected to reach a rapid result. However, negotiations that have been held so far [between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers over Tehran’s nuclear energy program] have relatively progressed in a suitable way and, therefore, they can be expected to reach good results in the future. Also, efforts made by Iran to prove that its nuclear energy program is transparent and peaceful, in addition to Tehran’s show of respect for all international rules and regulations clearly prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been – and still is – ready to address and resolve such concerns on the part of international community. Therefore:
1. At first, it should be made clear whether other parties to nuclear talks with Iran are actually concerned about Iran’s nuclear energy program being non-peaceful, or are in reality looking to first limit and then totally dismantle the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities. If they really seek to have their concerns dispelled, they should note that through its unprecedented cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and by showing total transparency with regard to its nuclear energy program, Iran has already proven that the other parties’ concerns are not based on objective evidence and are mostly the result of illusions and propaganda. However, if the other negotiating parties are actually seeking to achieve other goals, it goes without saying that under such conditions no negotiations can be successful. Up to the present time, it seems that the other negotiating parties are apparently trying to reach an agreement with Iran over all the aspects of the country’s nuclear case. In trying to achieve this goal, the negotiating parties may face some simple and some more difficult issues. However, there are two points that raise hope in the success of the ongoing nuclear negotiations. Firstly, it should be noted that the time frame for reaching an agreement as well as the full scope of Iran’s nuclear activities, especially the uranium enrichment process, are complicated issues in nature and it would take some time before the negotiating parties manage to reach a comprehensive agreement on these issues. The second consideration which will help the success of negotiations is the high emphasis put by the Iranian negotiating team on transparency over the country’s nuclear activities while the opposite parties have actually accepted Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy within framework of international regulations.
2. At present, both sides suffer from a mutual lack of trust. The Americans are distrustful of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This pessimism and distrust has its roots in extensive Iranophobic efforts, which have caused the West in general to look upon Iran’s realities with permanent doubt and pessimism. Therefore, even when faced with the factual reports of the IAEA [about Iran’s nuclear energy program], the Western countries still look for illusionary excuses to shape the realities on the basis of their own mentality. They have already a mentality and they want to shape all the realities on the ground according to that mentality. Therefore, if they are sincerely concerned about Iran’s nuclear energy program, they should put the highest emphasis on the need for Iran to show transparency about its nuclear activities, instead of forming their mentality on the basis of total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear energy program. They should pay due attention to the IAEA's reports on Iran’s nuclear activities as well. During the past four months that have lapsed since the [interim] agreement [reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in the Swiss city of Geneva last November], the IAEA has conducted very extensive and complicated inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities all of which have proven beyond any doubt the legal nature of Iran’s nuclear activities. Therefore, the negotiating parties with Iran should pay due attention to these realities and avoid of coming up with new excuses every day in order to put more pressure on the Iranian side.
3. Another point which should be emphasized here is that after Iran takes all the trust building measures, which are expected from it, the other parties should make a final decision on lifting the sanctions they have imposed against the Islamic Republic. It would be against the letter and spirit of the agreement, which the two sides are supposed to reach, to expect Iran to go through the bureaucratic maze of the other negotiating parties – for example, to wait for final decisions of the US Congress or the United Nations Security Council – in order to have sanctions removed. The other negotiating parties cannot expect Iran to abide by its obligations as per the agreement while sanctions continue relentlessly. Of course, it is quite natural for Iran to comply with its obligations and prove beyond any doubt the peaceful nature of its nuclear energy program, but the other parties should, for their part, take the necessary steps to totally remove anti-Iran sanctions. Of course, sanctions imposed on Iran have many aspects. There are certain sanctions, which have been imposed by the UN Security Council while another part of sanctions have been imposed by the US Congress and are considered transnational measures taken by the United States, and there are also sanctions, which have been imposed by third countries that previously cooperated with Iran in various fields. These sanctions are very unfair and at loggerheads with all the norms of international law. Finally, there are unilateral sanctions imposed by the member states of the European Union against the Islamic Republic. All these sanctions should be removed. In other words, if negotiations [over Iran’s nuclear energy program] are supposed to bear fruit, all kinds of sanctions should be gradually removed in proportion to measures taken by the Iranian side. This, however, has not been the case so far. The Western countries have shown that they are not willing to lift anti-Iran sanctions and are, in fact, using these sanction as a means of mounting pressure on Iran over its nuclear energy program. In doing so, they have largely ignored the fact that in their entirety, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities are legal and within framework of the regulations enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At present, there is no doubt that all nuclear activities of Iran are peaceful and carried out with total transparency.
4. Last but not least, we are dealing with a duality here and the Iranian negotiating team has been trying to make it clear what Iran is going to achieve in return for the confidence building measures that it is supposed to take. If Iran is simply going to see ambiguous responses with regard to sanctions, for example, if Tehran is supposed to wait for a decision by the US Congress or go through a lengthy procedure through the UN Security Council, or wait for the green light from all the member states of the European Union before sanctions are lifted, it is clear that such responses are vague at best and will not help nuclear talks to reach the desirable result.
*Gholamali Khoshroo is the Senior Editor of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam and Former Deputy Foreign Minister for legal and International Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran (2002-2005). Khoshroo is assistant of President Khatami on “Alliance of civilizations” and Dialogue among Civilizations”. He has served as the Dean of the School for International Relations (1983-89); Ambassador to the United Nations (19890-95); Deputy Foreign Minister for Research and Education, Member of OIC Commission of Eminent Persons on “Enlightened Moderation”. In recent years, he has extensively worked on the development of contemporary political Islam and its implication for western societies. As a sociologist he studied at Tehran University and New School for Social Research, New York, He has published several articles and books on political and cultural affairs.
Key Words: Iran’s Nuclear Case, Complexities, Sanctions, P5+1, IAEA, EU, Realities, Illusions, Mutual Lack of Trust, US Congress, UN Security Council, Khoshroo
Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
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