[Marxism] Iran given two weeks to stop enriching nuclear fuel

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Jul 20 07:44:23 MDT 2008

No general agreement with Iran, which at this point would probably be in US
and Iranian government interests, is likely as long as the nuclear issue is
on the table.

Involved is the demand that Iran accept its status as a rogue state by
forgoing its right to control and manage its own nuclear power industry,
which is protected by the Nonproliferation treaty and international law.

Involved also is a surrender of sovereignty.

The issue is becoming a fake one. There is no doubt that Iranian technicians
now have the know-how to enrich fuel. A nuclear weapon is within Iran's
reach, as with many other countries, if Iran should decide to reach for it,
period. Nothing but destruction of the country can any longer decisively
reverse this fact. If Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear know-how, there
is no alternative to war to destroy the country.

Of course, Iranian policy, begun under Khomeini who dismantled the shah's
nuclear-weapons program, and reaffirmed by Khamenei's recent fatwa against
producing such weaponm. If there were any deviations from this, and this is
far from proven, they appear to have taken place under the relatively
"liberal" Khatami presidency. 

So basically Washington needs to accept covertly or overtly Iran's nuclear
power program as a fact of life in order to cut a deal that could be
advantageous to Washington in other areas.

At least, in my current read, I do not see Iran yielding on this issue,
where it is a matter of deep national pride and honor to refuse the
second-class status Iran is being ordered to accept.  The sentiment is so
broad that even the would-be shah of Iran in Southern Cal. defends Iran's
right to enrich nuclear fuel.

As long as this is the central issue, I think there can be no agreement.
But can Washington any longer afford not to find a way around it? That may
be the issue at hand.
Fred Feldman

Iran given two-week deadline to end the nuclear impasse
Julian Borger in Geneva The Observer, 
Sunday July 20, 2008 Article 

Iran was given a fortnight to agree to freeze its uranium enrichment
programme yesterday or face further international isolation.

After a day of inconclusive talks in Geneva, a six-nation negotiating team
warned the Iranian delegation that it had run out of patience and demanded a
'yes or no' answer to a proposal it put forward five weeks ago. 

Under that offer, sponsored jointly by the US, Britain, France, Germany,
Russia and China, Iran would not expand its uranium enrichment programme,
while the international community refrained from imposing further sanctions.
This phase would last six weeks, possibly paving the way for suspension of
enrichment and more comprehensive talks. 

The failure to reach agreement appeared likely to trigger new European and
UN sanctions and to raise tensions in the Gulf. An Iranian rejection would
also represent a rebuff to conciliatory moves from Washington, including the
dispatch of a senior diplomat to Geneva to attend high-level talks with the
Iranians for the first time in nearly three decades. The diplomat, William
Burns, left Geneva without making any public comments. 

Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief leading the
international negotiating team, said the talks were 'constructive', but
admitted: 'We didn't get the answer we were hoping for. I hope very much we
will get an answer to our question presented five weeks ago and we hope we
will get it in two weeks.'

Solana would not specify what the consequences would be if there was no
positive response from Iran in the next fortnight, but Western officials at
the talks said there was consensus among the six nations, including Russia
and China, that it would be interpreted as a rejection and trigger a new
round of UN Security Council sanctions. 

'They have been told this is your last meeting. We are not doing this again.
Go back to Tehran and you have a week or two at most to give a yes or no,'
one official said.

Another Western source involved in the talks said: 'There was some
impatience voiced by a number of people at the meeting that we want a clear

Asked at a press conference, the chief nuclear negotiator for Iran and head
of its delegation, Saeed Jalili, ducked a direct opinion on the freeze
proposal. 'We have been talking about that for many hours,' Jalili said.
'What is more important is for us to have a constructive approach and bring
that approach to the table, so that we can later deal with our shared
worries and concerns.'

A negotiating document presented at the meeting by Jalili and seen by The
Observer also talked vaguely about future co-operation but did not directly
mention Iran's nuclear activities. In the next few days the European Union
is due to approve new financial sanctions aimed at Tehran's banking system.
Those are likely to be followed by a fresh round of Security Council talks
in September on stepping up international sanctions, although both Russia
and China oppose radical measures.

The US and Britain have also raised the possibility of pursuing an embargo
of Iran's oil industry, including a block on imports of petrol and diesel.
And the breakdown of talks is likely to strengthen the urgings of hawks in
Israel for pre-emptive military action to halt Iran's nuclear programme.

Western officials in Geneva said that they were encouraged that all six
nations represented in the Solana delegation, including Russia and China,
presented a common front and made repeated efforts to urge Jalili to focus
on the 'freeze for freeze' proposal.

The meeting took place in Geneva's 16th-century town hall, in the same room
that the Red Cross was founded and the first Geneva convention on the
treatment of war wounded was signed in 1864.

What happens now?
Is this the end for negotiations?

Not exactly. The Iranian negotiator was told Iran had another two weeks to
accept or reject an interim deal, freezing uranium enrichment and sanctions.
It was made clear to the Iranians that only a 'yes' would avert more
sanctions and isolation.

What happens if Iran says yes?

Iran would stop expanding uranium enrichment, meaning it would not add to
the roughly 3,000 centrifuges it has spinning at the Natanz facility,
enriching uranium gas to make nuclear fuel.

What if Iran says no or fails to respond?

Then there will almost certainly be more sanctions, aimed at banks and
travel and the leadership's financial assets. It is unclear what Russia and
China would agree to at the UN, but they have said they will not go along
with the sort of robust sanctions, targeting Iran's dependence on foreign
refineries for its petrol and diesel, favoured by the US and Britain.

Is war now more likely?

Yes, but it is generally thought there is a long way to go before any
hostilities. It will strengthen the hand of hawks like Dick Cheney in
Washington and give added impetus to Israeli leaders who believe only
military action will stop Iran. But, for now, US moderates are in the

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