Ahmadinejad: lift sanctions to boost Iran nuclear talks
The first round of talks on Iran's nuclear program in 14 months yielded defiance from Tehran, frustration from the P5+1 countries, and an agreement to meet again in Istanbul in January.
But the first face-to-face discussions in 14 months between Iran and major world powers concerned about its nuclear program yielded little else but an airing of views, according to Iranâ€™s chief negotiator.
The â€śonly outcome," Saeed Jalili stressed, was agreement on the eight words that will be the framework for the next meeting: â€śTalks based on cooperation to find common ground.â€ť
And yet within moments of the conclusion of the talks in Geneva, it was clear that Iranâ€™s broad interpretation of the contents of the next round â€“ sweeping up everything from Israelâ€™s undeclared nuclear arsenal to â€śeffortsâ€ť by unnamed countries to â€śmonopolizeâ€ť resources and power â€“ was at odds with that of the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany).
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the host of the talks, described the outcome in terms of Iranâ€™s nuclear program â€“ the top concern of several members of the P5+1, which believe that Iranâ€™s energy plans mask a drive for a nuclear weapon.
â€śWe recognize Iranâ€™s rights [to nuclear power], but insist it fulfills its obligations,â€ť Ms. Ashton said. In Istanbul, â€śwe plan to discuss practical ideas and ways of cooperating toward the resolution of our full concerns about the nuclear issue.â€ť
Standing pat on sanctions
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that lifting the array of UN, American, EU and other sanctions against Iran would boost future talks, though no P5+1 diplomat has even hinted that would be possible.
â€śIf you come to the negotiations by canceling all the nasty things and wrong decisions that you have adopted â€¦ lift resolutions, sanctions and some restrictions that you have created â€¦ then the talks will definitely be fruitful,â€ť Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech in Arak, a city in central Iran.
Mr. Jalili made clear that Iranâ€™s uranium enrichment would â€śabsolutely notâ€ť be up for discussion in Istanbul. Four UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions have imposed sanctions and demanded that Iran stop the process â€“ which is used to make reactor fuel, or if refined to much higher levels can be used in a weapon â€“ until it proves its work is peaceful.
Instead, in a press conference after the meeting, Jalili stuck to longstanding talking points about the need to reshape global politics.
Jalili questioned the scale of other nuclear arsenals and said it was â€śdisgracefulâ€ť that the listing of nuclear scientists for sanctions by the UNSC had, he claimed, led to the assassination of one scientist and the wounding of another in two Tehran bomb attacks last week. Beside Jalili at the podium was a portrait of Majid Shahriari, the dead scientist, with a strip of black cloth in the upper left corner.
â€śWe didnâ€™t get anywhere on substance,â€ť one official of the P5+1 told the Associated Press. â€śIt was an exchange of views.â€ť
The AP also quoted a senior American official, who said: â€śOur expectations for these talks were low, and they were never exceeded.â€ť Reuters quoted a US official saying the talks were â€śdifficult and candid,â€ť and that Iran suspending enrichment was still P5+1 policy.
Neither side mentioned a nuclear fuel swap deal backed by the US and once offered in October 2009. It was finally brokered by Brazil and Turkey with Iran last May. It was dismissed as inadequate then by the P5+1, given Iranâ€™s continued rate of enrichment.
Jalili warned that Western focus on â€śfabricated issuesâ€ť â€“ he did not explicitly mention the concerns about Iranâ€™s nuclear program â€“ should not be allowed to â€śdivertâ€ť attention from â€śreal concerns.â€ť
The secretary-general of Iranâ€™s Supreme National Security Council â€“ without naming the Americans or EU â€“ criticized the dual-track policy now favored by the Obama administration of holding talks while also raising pressure on Iran through sanctions and other means.
Such talks under pressure â€śwere not talks anymore,â€ť Jalili said. â€śDictators dictate, and talks befit civilized people.â€ť Continued use of such a dual-track policy meant talks were â€śdoomed to fail.â€ť Likewise, Jalili added, â€śwhen some sides resort to assassination and terrorism, this tells me their logic is weak and lacking.â€ť