[Marxism] Iran freezes u-enrichment 6 weeks, okays talks with Solana group

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jul 3 09:03:52 MDT 2008


Inter Press Service
July 2, 2008


WASHINGTON -- A senior Iranian official reportedly told members of the
Iranian parliament Monday that Iran has agreed to freeze its enrichment
program for six weeks and begin negotiations with the P5+1 group of states
as early as next week, according to reports of that decision by the Iranian
Student News Agency (ISNA) and by a Farsi-language website in Iran.

Remarks by Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki and a top adviser to
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Tuesday also seemed to indicate that
decision to accept a "freeze for freeze" proposal from the P5+1 to begin at
least preliminary negotiations.

The P5+1 consists of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council --
the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia -- and Germany.

The apparent Iranian decision comes in the wake of an atmosphere of
heightened threat of attack on Iran by Israel created by a series of moves
by Israeli and U.S. officials in recent days.

The head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Gholam-Reza Aghazadeh, told members
of the Majlis energy committee Monday that Iran has agreed to start the
talks, according to the Farsi-language Iranian website Fararou. 
It said "informed sources" had specified that Iran had accepted a six-week
freeze on any expansion of enrichment as a condition on such negotiations,
as proposed by European Union foreign affairs chief Javier Solana.

The P5+1 proposal also offers to suspend further progress in advancing U.N.
sanctions against Iran.  It does not address sanctions organized outside the
U.N. Security Council framework, however.

ISNA reported in a brief item on Monday that an Iranian parliamentary energy
committee member, whom it did not name, had declared that Iran "has agreed
to start talks with 5+1 countries group."  It added that the talks "will
begin next week."

Although ISNA did not report that the official had said Iran would freeze
its nuclear activities, in the sense of foregoing any increase in
centrifuges, it implied as much by reporting that the P5+1 proposal
delivered by Solana Jun. 14 "required Iran to suspend nuclear activities in
exchange for a set of economic and security incentives."

The news further quoted unnamed "Iranian officials" as saying that "common
points of the two packages can be a launching pad to start talks."

The Farsi-language website Fararou identified the member of the committee
who had quoted Aghazadeh as informing committee members that Iranian
authorities had agreed to negotiate with the 5+1 group as Seyed Admad
Hosseini.  It was Hosseini who was quoted as telling reporters that the
talks should start next week.

Fararou also provided additional details on the Aghazadeh's briefing.  It
said the secretary of the Majlis energy committee, Moayyed Hosseini, told
its reporter that the Aghazadeh had pointed to "positive aspects" of the
negotiations with the P5+1, "including the fact that the west was accepting
Iran's possession of 3,000 centrifuges."

That comment suggested that Tehran will present the "freeze for freeze"
proposal as a concession to Iran's right to enrich uranium.

The committee secretary was quoted by Fararou as stating flatly that the
proposal for a six-week freeze on enrichment "has been accepted by Tehran."

The same parliamentarian was quoted as saying the atomic energy chief had
declared that the "package" of proposals from the P5+1 was still being
studied, and that Iran would respond by the end of the week.

The formal P5+1 proposal given to Iranian officials by E.U. foreign affairs
commissioner Javier Solana Jun. 14 was a repackaging of the
mid-2006 proposal to Tehran.  But it was accompanied by a six-week "freeze
for freeze" proposal under which Iran would not increase the level of its
enrichment efforts and the P5+1 would freeze the movement towards tougher
sanctions against Iran, according to diplomats in London quoted by Reuters
Jun. 21.

That would enable "pre-negotiations" to begin between the two sides on
"parameters for formal negotiations," according to the diplomats.

Beginning formal negotiations, however, were said to require that Iran to
"fully suspend" enrichment, meaning that it would actually temporarily halt
the enrichment.

The formal negotiations envisaged would last "up to six months." according
to the diplomats cited by Reuters, during which time the halt to enrichment
would have to continue.

The remarks by energy committee secretary Hosseini implied that Iran's
commitment was only to the six-week freeze on the level of its nuclear
activities and not to an actual suspension of enrichment as required for the
formal stage of negotiations.

But Mottaki, in remarks at a luncheon meeting with reporters at the Iranian
mission in New York, suggested that the Iranians might be prepared to go

Mottaki said that there were sufficient commonalities between the Solana
proposal on behalf of the P5+1 and Iran's own proposals for negotiations to
provide the basis for talks.  That remark, paralleling the unattributed view
reported by ISNA on Monday, suggested that Iran was preparing to enter into
substantive negotiations.  Furthermore, Mottaki failed to repeat the
standard Iranian statement that enrichment is Iran's legitimate right, even
though he was repeatedly questioned on the point.

Further indicating an Iranian desire to take advantage of any diplomatic
opening in a period of rising threat from Washington and Tel Aviv, Ali Akbar
Velyati, a top foreign policy adviser to Khamenei, said, "Americans wanted
Iran not to accept Solana.  Therefore our interests imply that we should
embrace Solana."

--Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in
U.S. national security policy.  The paperback edition of his latest book,
*Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam*,
was published in 2006.

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