Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nuclear Chess

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Stephen Lendman, Contributor
Activist Post

On April 14, two days of nuclear chess began in Istanbul. At issue is Iran's civilian program. So-called P5+1 countries -- America, Russia, China, Britain, and France, plus Germany -- know it's peaceful. They pretend otherwise. 

Expect to-ing and fro-ing without resolution. Washington plans it that way. So do Britain, France and Germany. They're part of the dirty game claiming Iran has nuclear weapons ambitions.

They demand Tehran prove a negative. How do you provide evidence revealing what you don't have? Resolution won't come from Istanbul. Nor will Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's fatwa against acquiring nuclear weapons help.

He calls possessing them sinful and anti-Islamic. Saying it falls on deaf ears. It's more proof of Washington's hypocrisy. It shows considerations other then Iran's legitimate program are at issue.

On April 14, The New York Times headlined, "At Talks, Nations Seek Commitment From Iran."

"I hope what we will see today is the beginnings of a sustained process," said Catherine Ashton. The EU foreign policy chief's chairing the meeting. She showed where she stands, adding:


Talks are intended "to find ways in which we can build confidence between us and ways in which we can demonstrate that Iran is moving away from a nuclear weapons program." Resolution depends "on what Iran is putting on the table today."

Iran's a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory. It complies fully with provisions. No evidence suggests a nuclear weapons program or hostile intent against neighbors. Istanbul participants know it.

Iran wants good faith discussions. So do Russia and China. Washington's the main obstacle. It prefers confrontation, not peace and stability.

Nonetheless, Iran agreed to participate despite little hope hardline Western views will soften. In Washington on Thursday, G8 foreign ministers said:

"Iran’s persistent failure to comply with its obligations.... and to meet the requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors resolutions is a cause of urgent concern."

That shows what Tehran's up against. It fully complies, far more than other nations. Instead of credit, it's criticized. Expect little or no change in Istanbul.

On April 12, Haaretz writers Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel headlined, "Waiting for a meltdown ahead of Iran talks," saying:

"Don't get your hopes up" for dramatic breakthroughs. Expecting something different this time forgets we've been through this exercise before. Past meetings ended at square one. Little more's likely this time. Even optimists believe little at best will be accomplished.

At issue is Washington's hardline stance and real agenda. Its delegation includes mid-level diplomats. It "further attest(s) to the low expectations." If Obama was serious, he'd "send a top-caliber representative" like Hillary Clinton.

She's preoccupied plotting Anti-Assad strategy. Iran's next but for now can wait. Claiming Tehran's a threat is red herring cover for bigger fish to fry. Solidifying regional hegemony is key. First target Syria, then Iran. For now, keep the nuclear pot boiling.

Pretexts conceal real motives. Washington's intend no good. Tehran knows it. It's been on the receiving end for decades. Ahead of Istanbul talks, demands made include closing its heavily protected Fordo facility, halting 20% uranium enrichment, and offshoring existing stockpiles.

In a recent article, former Obama Middle East official Dennis Ross went further. Besides closing Fordo, eliminating 20% enrichment, and offshoring existing stockpiles, he adds halting enrichment beyond 3.5 - 5% needed to produce electricity, letting Iran possess up to 1,000 kilograms at that level, and maintaining a maximum 1,000 centrifuges.

In return, some, not all, sanctions would be eased or lifted. Iran's also falsely accused of sponsoring regional terrorism, as well as other spurious charges. According to Ross, normalization won't happen unless both sides "reach more extensive understandings that go beyond the nuclear agenda."

Like other anti-Iranian zealots, he points fingers one way. Washington's imperial agenda isn't addressed, nor lawless Israeli policies. Instead of making baseless accusations and demanding unreasonable concessions, it's time to consider real threats and name them.

Instead, Ross also suggests Iran forego enrichment altogether and rely solely on "international fuel bank" supplies. In addition, he wants it "to agree not to reprocess, permit recovery of all spent fuel, and institute the level of transparency" it more than already meets.

Moreover, forcing Tehran alone to comply with conditions not imposed on other civilian nuclear countries exposes the hypocrisy of America's agenda and what's really behind it. It's not Iran's nuclear program. It's Washington's hegemony plans and determination to replace independent states with client ones.

At the same time, Ross and others question whether Iran will negotiate in good faith. Tehran's not the issue. It's Washington, Israel, other complicit allies, and former officials like Ross.

Anti-Defamation League head Abe Foxman calls him Israel's "advocate." Middle East analyst Aaron David Miller says he's "Israel's lawyer." Others call him a Zionist hardliner up to no good for Palestine or Israel's regional rivals, including Iran.

He also co-founded the AIPAC-linked Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). An extremist Israeli front group, it's board of advisors includes rogue figures like Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Woolsey, and Richard Perle.

On April 14, Iran's FARS News Agency reported late morning/afternoon talks concluded, saying:

Its team will hold "separate bilateral meetings" with other delegations ahead of evening discussions. Talks began at 11AM local time. Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, heads Tehran negotiators. Catherine Ashton leads representatives from the six attending world powers.

Past discussions were held in Geneva in December 2010 and Istanbul in January 2011. Resolution wasn't achieved. According to Iranian team member Supreme National Security Council Undersecretary Ali Baqeri, talks will end this evening.

They "will be held in one day and will not continue for a second day," he said. At day's end, all sides agreed to meet again on May 23. Catherine Ashton said talks were "constructive and useful. (W)e want to move to a sustained process of dialogue."

A US official wants more. Calling discussions insufficient, he said concrete steps must follow. Expect no breakthroughs later on. Washington won't tolerate them.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stressed:

"I have never witnessed any proof or document indicating that Iran's nuclear activity is military. I believe that we should be seeking agreements, instead of magnifying differences, in order to resolve the issue."

With regard to Iran's nuclear enrichment rights, he added:

"According to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Islamic Republic of Iran is entitled to the right to make use of nuclear energy, but this right is accompanied by some responsibilities."

China also recognizes Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program. Beijing and Moscow both urge settling differences diplomatically through dialogue.

From Tehran, Iranian lawmaker and National Security and Foreign Policy Commission parliament member, Avaz Heidarpour, said:

"We will not (agree to) have coordination with any country for taking our peaceful nuclear measures. Our activities are in accordance with the NPT rules, and we do not accept any (more) conditions and regulation beyond Iran's IAEA and NPT undertakings."

In March, Ayatollah Khamenei said:

"We do not possess a nuclear weapon and we will not build one, but we will defend ourselves against any aggression, whether by the US or the Zionist regime, with the same level of force."

On April 12, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi's Washington Post op-ed headlined, "Iran: We do not want nuclear weapons," saying:

Decades ago, America "help(ed) Iran set up the full nuclear fuel cycle along with atomic power plants." At the time, Washington said "nuclear power would provide for the growing needs of our economy and free our remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals. That rationale has not changed."

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, America ended fuel shipments. To secure them, Iran modified its operations to run on 20% enriched uranium. The same Tehran Research Reactor operates today. It supplies isotopes used for treating cancer patients.

In 2009, Iran requested the IAEA supply fuel. Local stockpiles were low. Lives were at stake. Tehran agreed to "exchange a major portion of our stock of low-enriched uranium...." In response, the Obama administration imposed more sanctions.

Iran acted responsibly, he stressed. Its scientists "managed to do something we had never done before: enrich uranium to the needed 20 percent and mold it into fuel plates for the reactor." Iran is capable of providing for its own needs.

At the same time, he, like other Tehran officials, expressed opposition to "weapons of mass destruction." In the 1980s, when Iraq attacked Iran with chemical arms, "we did not retaliate" the same way. Its nuclear program fully complies with NPT provisions. It has no "military dimension." No evidence suggests it.

He hoped Istanbul talks would resolve differences, end suspicions, and produce trust. He urged all sides to "make genuine efforts" to try.

At the same time, he knows what Iran faced for decades. Discussions for one or two days won't change things. One side can't resolve issues without a willing partner. Washington's hardline stance hasn't changed.

Nor has its quest to replace all independent states with client ones. At issue is unchallenged global dominance. Much more than diplomacy is needed to change that position. Istanbul won't budge it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/


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