The EU's New Resolve on Iran
Talks resume today in Vienna between Iran and the EU-3 (Germany, France and Britain) regarding the Iranian nuclear program, but there is not much hope held out for any breakthroughs. In what should be viewed as a role reversals at the table, it is now going to be the EU negotiators assuming the obstinate listener’s role while the Iranians will (presumably) attempt to persuade the other side to bend to their will.
“We won’t reopen negotiations, we will only listen to what the Iranians have to say, especially about research and development,” said an EU3 diplomat, alluding to centrifuge machines capable of enriching uranium to arms-grade level.
“We will see whether what they say to us in private is any different from what they have been declaring in public, to see if there is wiggle room for resuming negotiations.”
While not much, if anything, is expected to result from the awaited “talk about talks”, it is worthy of note that Europe seems to have come to realize the nature of the regime they are negotiating with. If there has been one benefit of the ascendance of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency, it has been his international ‘eye-opening’ effect. But it should be recognized that the nature of the Iranian regime and its oppressive and aggressive mullahcracy is no different now than it was before Ahmadinejad. It is as it always has been since the 1979 revolution: An Islamist theocracy with a stated foreign policy that includes the absolute destruction of another state: Israel.
This regime has been pursuing nuclear weapons since soon after its assumption of power. Despite signing onto various non-proliferation documents and ongoing talks regarding proliferation and development, this pursuit has not faltered. At best, it has altered.
While Iran has not been enriching uranium, one EU diplomat pointed out that Iran has been producing P2 centrifuges(mechanism used in the enrichment process) without pause throughout the entire span of negotiations. While Iran denies this, it must be understood that, as the diplomat noted, the IAEA “has no clue” what goes on at Iranian military facilities, where these centrifuges are actually manufactured.
On Tuesday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a London press conference that they had new information about 14 new sites and tunnel systems underground that house parts of Iran’s missile and nuclear research programs. This report, if correct, should not come as a surprise, as the Natanz enrichment facility (among others) has been largely constructed underground as clearly displayed in satellite imagery.
What proposals the Iranians bring to Vienna is unclear, but the end result will remain the same, as any and all ‘proposals’ by the Iranians will be contingent on “the condition that they recognize the rights of Iran.” That right is, of course, unfettered uranium enrichment.
“If that’s their only agenda, more dialogue will make little sense. The problem is, Iran’s hard-liners were encouraged to believe they could inch forward toward enrichment when they managed to restart uranium processing without provoking a referral to the U.N. Security Council,” another diplomat said.
Most observers contend that the whole of the ongoing dialogue thus far with the Iranian regime makes little sense. While the talks have been going on, Iran has been backfilling its nuclear development infrastructure (including parts and facilities production), as alluded to by the EU diplomat regarding the continued P2 centrifuge manufacturing. Once Iran reaches the point where they no longer find the negotiation process useful, they will simply be more prepared to ‘flip the switch’ and finally begin the process of physically creating weapons-usable fissile material.
Today’s “talks about talks” will likely lead nowhere diplomatically, but this time it will be an interesting and welcome possibility to see the EU-3 pushing away first from the table with resolve for a change, and not the Iranians.