Islamic Iran's negotiators have made clear that if the P5+1 group of countries led by the US are really serious about a deal over Tehran's nuclear program, then all sanctions must be lifted. The latest round of talks have been underway in the Swiss city of Montreux. Iran's Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif and his US counterpart met yesterday and talks are continuing at expert level today. March 31 has been set as a deadline for a deal.
Thursday March 05, 2015, 14:57 EST
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi reitered Tehran’s principled position that all sanctions against his country must be lifted if there is to a deal in the nuclear negotiations.
Araqchi told Iran’s Press TV today (March 5) after talks with officials from the P5+1 group in Montreux, Switzerland: “Our principle position is that all sanctions are lifted at once.”
Araqchi, who is Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs, stressed that an agreement could be reached with the P5+1 group of countries “only if sanctions are lifted.”
He termed the lifting of sanctions as a “very important aspect” in the negotiations, adding, “No sanctions should remain in place.” He also said that the Western powers had to decide between achieving a “deal” and continuing to “pressure” Iran through sanctions.
Araqchi was referring to pressure being exerted on Iran by the US and its allies through sanctions that are illegal under International Law.
Russia and China are not so keen on the sanctions regime both believing that this is how the West, primarily the US tries to achieve its policy objectives. Russia is also suffering from US-imposed sanctions because of a standoff over Ukraine.
The two sides are working to a deadline of March 31 to arrive at an agreement. The issues boil down to the following: the amount of uranium Iran will enrich and the lifting of sanctions.
The US has taken the position that Iran must shut down all but the barest minimum of its nuclear activities in return for limited sanctions relief that will be stretched over many years.
Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have made absolutely clear that all sanctions must be lifted at once or there will be no deal. Further, Iran will continue to enrich uranium allowed under the NPT.
Under the interim deal signed in November 2013, Iran suspended enrichment of uranium to 20 % and also scaled back its nuclear program not adding any more centrifuges in return for some relief in sanctions amounting to about $7.5 billion.
Through the sanctions regime, the US and its allies have frozen more than $100 billion of Iranian oil income. Iran has also been shut off from the SWIFT banking system whereby its transactions are processed.
This has resulted in Iran not being able to access its resources, pay customers or even purchase life-saving medicines.
The US aim was to cripple Iran’s economy, an objective in which Washington and its allies have completely failed. While sanctions have had an adverse effect on some aspects of Iran’s economy, the impact has not been so severe as to force it to capitulate to US demands.
Instead, Islamic Iran has withstood the blackmailing tactics, thanks to the Islamic system of governance, self-reliance and the support of its people. It has gained in stature worldwide.
Its influence in the region has grown tremendously and all disruptive policies pursued by the US and its allies have failed.
The US has realized that while all of its allies in the P5+1 group of countries—Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—have diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic and continue to trade with it, Washington is left out in the cold.
Further, regional developments have made Islamic Iran the indispensable power. The resistance front against Zionist Israel comprising Iran, Hizbullah, Syria and Hamas has been strengthened.
Iraq has shown willingness to lend support even if Syria has been badly damaged as a consequence of the unleashing of US-Saudi-Zionist-Qatari-Trukish-backed takfiri terrorists in the country.
The takfiris have failed to dislodge the government of Bashar al Asad from power. Instead, changes in Yemen have strengthened Iran’s position further.
The US is keen for a deal primarily for two reasons. First, Barack Obama wants to leave a legacy of opening up relations with the Islamic Republic that were disrupted by the US in early 1980. Obama is keen to have something of the equivalent of Richard Nixon’s opening to China in the 1970s.
Second, US Secretary of State John Kerry sees the success of negotiations as a way to boost his popularity to get another chance to run for president on the Democratic Party ticket in 2016.
Should the negotiations fail, Iran would resume its peaceful nuclear program but would be forced to terminate the intrusive inspections of its nuclear program.
When the sanctions were first slapped on Iran in 2005, Iran had only a few hundred centrifuges running. Today it has more than 19,000 and its scientists have gained a lot of expertise as well as self-confidence in the nuclear as well as many other fields.
It would be unwise to predict what the final outcome of the negotiations might be and whether the two sides can come to an agreement by the self-imposed deadline of March 31.
The manner in which all sides are approaching the negotiations—putting great effort and new players joining the talks—however, indicate that they are serious about striking a deal.
The world will learn in three weeks’ time whether such optimism is warranted or American hubris and Zionist disruptive tactics will scuttle the talks.