January 24, 2007

THE CAUSE GOES OFF:

Debunking Iran's nuclear myth makers (Kaveh L Afrasiabi , 1/25/07, Asia Times)

"It is starting to look like a real tragedy," a Tehran political-science professor told the author, adding, "An inexperienced mayor [of Tehran] with no previous international exposure was put at the helm, and he brought in his aides who were equally novices in the realm of international politics, at a critical time in Iran's foreign relations. The result has been near-disastrous. But, hopefully, other leaders will put a stop to this nonsense."

That hope is based on the fact that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, has made known his displeasure with Ahmadinejad's hardline politics through an editorial in the newspaper Jomhuri Eslami, which has called on the president to stay out of the nuclear issue.

This sentiment has been reflected by another newspaper, Kargozaran, associated with the technocratic elite, some of whom, such as Ali Larijani, the head of powerful Supreme National Security Council, proposed a temporary freeze early last year (see Sideshows on Iran's frogmarch to the UN, Asia Times Online, February 7, 2006).

What would a temporary suspension achieve? The answer is: it would satisfy, albeit temporarily, the United Nations Security Council's demand, reflected in Resolutions 1696 and 1737, for a halt to the enrichment activities, given the fact that these resolutions refer to the IAEA resolutions that requested these suspensions as a "non-legally binding" and "voluntary" measure.

In other words, no matter how insistent the United States and its European allies are on a permanent suspension, there is nothing in either the UN resolutions and/or the IAEA resolutions that would endorse their unreasonable demand, which lacks a legal basis. Also, a one-year suspension would deflect the US military threat and prevent "lame duck" US President George W Bush from initiating military action against Iran.

Since 2003, Iranian officials have admitted that their previous declarations to the IAEA were inaccurate and have promised to take "corrective steps" to redeem the past shortcomings, a promise they have executed in good faith through increased transparency, IAEA access to military sites, and a nearly two-year suspension of the enrichment program as per the terms of the so-called Paris Agreement (for more on the collapse of the agreement, see Myth of the EU olive branch, August 30, 2005).

Today, a re-suspension of the enrichment program would fit in the framework of those "corrective measures" and create the space for negotiations and long-term agreements, not to mention averting the crisis and putting a stop to the collateral damage caused by sanctions and the threat of war that have scared away foreign investors, caused capital flight, and put the nation's economic projects in jeopardy.


An Iranian rapproachment is just sitting there waiting for the President to step up and grab the opportunity. An Asian legacy that included Iraqi liberation, a Palestinian state, creation of the special relationship with India and normal relations with Iran could hardly be improved upon.


MORE:
In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran's Offer of Dialogue: Some Officials Lament Lost Opportunity (Glenn Kessler, June 18, 2006, Washington Post)

Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.

But top Bush administration officials, convinced the Iranian government was on the verge of collapse, belittled the initiative. Instead, they formally complained to the Swiss ambassador who had sent the fax with a cover letter certifying it as a genuine proposal supported by key power centers in Iran, former administration officials said.

Last month, the Bush administration abruptly shifted policy and agreed to join talks previously led by European countries over Iran's nuclear program. But several former administration officials say the United States missed an opportunity in 2003 at a time when American strength seemed at its height -- and Iran did not have a functioning nuclear program or a gusher of oil revenue from soaring energy demand. [...]

The document lists a series of Iranian aims for the talks, such as ending sanctions, full access to peaceful nuclear technology and a recognition of its "legitimate security interests." Iran agreed to put a series of U.S. aims on the agenda, including full cooperation on nuclear safeguards, "decisive action" against terrorists, coordination in Iraq, ending "material support" for Palestinian militias and accepting the Saudi initiative for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The document also laid out an agenda for negotiations, with possible steps to be achieved at a first meeting and the development of negotiating road maps on disarmament, terrorism and economic cooperation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2007 7:32 AM
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