Later this month in Vienna, Iran will participate in another round of negotiations aimed at bringing resolution to the crisis surrounding its illegal nuclear weapons program. The discussions between the Islamic Republic and the so-called “P5+1” – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (The U.S., UK, France, Russia, and China) plus Germany – have done what all nuclear negotiations with Iran have done over the past ten years: raise hopes and expectations for no good reason save Western naivete.
Last month, Iran met in Istanbul with the P5+1 after 15 months of having no negotiations. In those 15 months, Western powers have significantly ramped up economic and diplomatic sanctions against Tehran. What came out of the April negotiations was a plan for this month’s negotiations (what progress!). European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said, “We want now to move to a sustained process of serious dialogue. We expect that subsequent meetings will lead to concrete steps toward a comprehensive negotiated solution.” Meanwhile, Iranian chief negotiation Saeed Jalili said, “We deeply believe that the removal of sanctions, which is demanded by the Iranian nation, is one of the issues which should receive attentions in the trend of talks on cooperation.”
Catch the difference? Western powers are all about dialogue. Let’s hug it out and keep on talking. The Iranians want an easing of sanctions. Meanwhile, five more weeks of spinning centrifuges will pass between rounds of negotiations.
Iran is in violation of five UN Security Council sanction resolutions calling for the immediate cessation of uranium enrichment. The Western position used to be that there would be no negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear program until Tehran came into compliance with those UN resolutions. The master negotiators at the UN, EU, and our own State Department really stuck to their guns on that one, huh?
The next time I get a speeding ticket, I’m going to try the Iranian model of negotiating with the UN. “Your honor, I’ll be happy to negotiate with the State over my reckless driving habits just as soon as we vacate this offensive ticket!” What kind of jail time do you get for saying something that stupid in a place with actual rules? This whole process serves only to further erode the gravity of UN Security Council action – assuming it isn’t already totally eroded.
The brilliance of the Iranian negotiating position – the real purpose of which is to deceive gullible Westerners into allowing the clock to run out on an Iranian nuclear weapon – is that it uses whatever Western pressure is applied as a starting point for negotiations. The UN insists Iran stop enriching uranium? Iran starts the negotiations by insisting the world recognize its right to continue enrichment. Western countries apply serious sanctions? Iran starts the negotiations by insisting the world ease sanctions. It’s all a game to the Iranians. And the West should stop playing.