New round of talks over Iran's nuclear program are about to begin in the Austrian capital Vienna in a few hours. How much progress will this round make depends on whether the West is serious about resolving this artificial crisis or is it merely using it to exert pressure on Iran in an attempt to force it to change its independent policy.
Monday March 17, 2014, 22:49 DST
Representatives from Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security council—the US, Russia, China, Britain, France—plus Germany have agreed on the agenda for the latest round of nuclear talks due to begin program in Vienna in a few hours.
The morning session of the first day of talks will be presided over by Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif and the European Union Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton. Heading to Vienna for talks earlier today (Monday March 17), Dr Zarif said the new round of nuclear negotiations will focus on uranium enrichment and Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor.
Subsequent discussions that will last into a second day (Wednesday), the two sides’ deputies will continue the negotiations.
Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs as well as its top negotiator, held talks Monday evening with Ashton’s deputy Helga Schimd, to agree on the framework for talks.
On the eve of the talks, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “China urges relevant parties to stick to peaceful talks, adopt an objective and pragmatic attitude, seek common ground while solving differences, and jointly pursue mutual benefits and a win-win outcome.” He said China was ready to assist in the talks.
A week ago, Ashton was in Tehran to consult with Iranian officials. While Dr Zarif was upbeat and said if there was political will from the other side, an agreement could be reached in less than five months. He also stressed at a joint press conference with Ashton that Iran’s legitimate rights under the NPT must be recognized.
Ashton appeared less confident saying a permanent deal may be difficult to reach. Was she trying to lower expectations or her remarks reflected the West’s hidden agenda that does not want a deal with Tehran?
Informed observers are of the view that the West’s harping on Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is merely a ruse to force Tehran to abandon its independent policy and surrender to the West’s political demands.
There is a strong body of opinion in Iran as well that feels that the West is using the nuclear talks to curtain Iran’s defence capabilities. There have been demands from representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect Iran’s missile testing sites.
Not only has Iran firmly rejected such demands but on Sunday (March 16), 200 members of Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) signed a letter saying that Iran’s defence matters were not open to negotiations.
They said Iran was being completely transparent about its nuclear program to allay all concerns that it is not making a nuclear bomb but that did not mean that the West or any of its agencies could demand that Iran also abandon its legitimate defence needs.
It will be interesting to see in the latest round of talks whether the West is serious about resolving this issue or is it just using it as a pretext to make other equally ludicrous demands based on allegations that have no basis in reality.
The Vienna talks are a follow-up to earlier negotiations in the Austrian capital, which ended on February 20.