Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part I: Following First Round of Talks, Iran Celebrates Double Victory Over West, Arabs (MEMRI) MIDDLE EAST MEDIA RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS) By: A. Savyon 04/17/12)
MEMRI} MIDDLE EAST MEDIA RESEARCH INSTITUTE
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Iran perceives the renewal of its nuclear talks with the 5+1 as a
significant victory over the West and over its Arab neighbors, both
in terms of the substance of the talks and in terms of enhancing
Iran´s geopolitical status – which has suffered considerably over the
past year and a half.
Iran´s success in the first round of talks, held April 13-14 in
Istanbul, was twofold. Not only did it achieve its long-standing
declared goal of buying time by engaging the West in a long-term
negotiations process, it has also gained Western approval to hold the
next round of talks, scheduled for May 23, in Baghdad, in an Arab
country which Iran considers to be within its sphere of influence.
The following report will review various statements by Iranian
officials and pro-Iran activists, both prior to and following the
Istanbul talks, reflecting Iran´s perception of its achievements in
Statements by Iranian Officials and Pro-Iran
Activists on Eve of Talks
Salehi: "Dialogue Must Be Seen As a Process Rather Than an
On the eve of the first round of talks, Iranian Foreign Minister
Ali Akbar Salehi published an op-ed in the Washington Post
titled "We Do Not Want Nuclear Weapons." In it, he stressed that
Tehran viewed the talks "as a process rather than an event," and that
the negotiations must be based on relations between equals. He also
emphasized that this process necessitated concessions from the West
"A key aspect of entering a conversation based on mutual respect
is recognizing the other side´s concerns as equal to one´s own. To
solve the nuclear issue, the scope of the upcoming talks among Iran
and the "P5+1"(the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and
Germany) must be comprehensive. The concerns of all sides must be
addressed. Complex matters that have been left unaddressed for
decades cannot be solved overnight. Another sign of mutual respect is
a willingness and readiness to both give and take, without
preconditions. This form of reciprocity is distinct from approaches
that involve only taking. Most important, and this cannot be
stressed enough, is that dialogue must be seen as a process rather
than an event [emphasis added]."
President of American Iranian Council: Past Iran-U.S.
Negotiations "Were Never Sustained for Any Length of Time"
Similar remarks were made in an April 13 article published on the
website of the American Iranian Council (AIC), by its president, dual
Iranian-U.S. citizen Hooshang Amirahmadi, who is close to elite
regime circles in Iran:
"The biggest problem with the past negotiations has been that
they were... never sustained for any length of time [emphasis added]…
The lack of meaningful and sustainable negotiations has
been a key factor in making the U.S. increasingly move towards
further pressure on Iran, assuming that the pressure policy will make
Iran bend. Yet, it is this pressure policy that has in the past
blocked such negotiations, and its continuation will make Iran resist
more and longer. The good news is that the U.S. seems to have
ultimately understood the ´pressure trap´ and has begun to speak in a
more conciliatory tone…"
Following Talks, Iranians Declare
While the U.S. and Europe expressed satisfaction over the positive
atmosphere at the first round of talks, Iranian sources expounded on
how the talks had marked a victory for Tehran. As proof, the Iranians
noted the following:
· The West now
seeks continued negotiations under any circumstances, as evidenced by
its announcement, prior to the commencement of the first round of
talks, that a second round of talks was already scheduled for May;
· The West has
accepted Iran´s right to pursue a nuclear program for civilian
purposes, including the enrichment of uranium to 3.5%-5%;
· The West, which
in the past has dictated conditions to Iran, was now negotiating
· The West has
accepted Tehran´s demand that these talks be without
Supreme National Security Council secretary Saeed Jalili, who
headed the Iranian delegation to the talks, said that the 5+1 had to
gain Iran´s trust, not the other way around.
Although Jalili clarified that the agenda of the second round of
nuclear talks "had not yet been determined," several prominent
Iranian MPs claimed that the next round would deal with lifting the
sanctions on Iran. In an interview with the Iranian Arabic-language
Al-Alam TV, Majlis Energy Committee deputy chairman Nasser Sudani
claimed that the April 13-14 talks "saw the acceptance of the
conditions [set by] Iran, which did not include any condition or plan
that deviates from international regulations. They [i.e. the 5+1]
have committed to lifting all the sanctions, and this is a victory
Like Jalili, Foreign Minister Salehi also said that the task of
building trust lay with the West and not with Iran. He asserted that
Iran – which, according to the latest IAEA report, is suspected of
engaging in military nuclear activity – demands discussion on lifting
the sanctions first, before it takes any serious measures to prove
that it is not engaging in military nuclear activity: "If the West
wants to build trust, it must begin by [lifting] the sanctions,
because such a step could help reduce the time needed for achieving
the [desired] results. The process of lifting the sanctions could be
lengthy, but there is no reason for it to be so. If [the West] has
good intentions, the process can be implemented very easily, and we
are willing to [help] make it very easy and quick. In fact, we are
even willing to resolve all the issues at the Baghdad talks..."
Salehi added: "At [the] Istanbul [talks], the two sides agreed
that in the month prior to the Baghdad talks [on May 23], they would
prepare a ´step-for-step´ road map. The two sides [also] agreed that
they would have to take their [mutual confidence-building] steps
simultaneously." In conclusion, he added: "In the time left until the
Baghdad talks, the West must work towards building confidence, and,
as part of this, work towards lifting the sanctions."
The daily Ebtekar explained that the Istanbul talks had
been successful because the West had relinquished its precondition of
a complete freeze on enrichment activity, and, unlike in previous
rounds of talks, had been cautious in addressing this issue. The
daily added that there was room for cautious optimism regarding the
ultimate success of the talks, for a number of reasons – mainly the
West´s realization that the sanctions had no effect on Iran, and that
if not resolved, the crisis could escalate into a "new world war."
Kayhan Editorial: For the First Time,
There Is a Profound Change in the West´s Approach to the Iranian
An April 15 editorial in the daily Kayhan reflected Iran´s
sense of triumph: "At the Istanbul talks, perhaps for the first time
in the history of the nuclear talks between Iran and the West, which
have been ongoing since 2003, there were profound changes in the
Western decisions and behavior. These changes stem from a shift in
the West´s assessment of Iran. The Iranian position has not changed
over the years, [but] the West has realized that Iran does not
capitulate to pressure and threats.
"Until [the Istanbul talks], whenever the Americans spoke of
confidence-building measures on Iran´s part, they meant only [one
thing]: that Iran must stop any kind of enrichment [activity]. In the
eyes of the West, that was the only confidence-building measure that
could prove the exclusively civilian nature of Iran´s nuclear
program... But today, Western officials... say explicitly that
[enrichment] to a level of 3%-5.5% [sic], in Iran [itself], is
acceptable, and that everyone must focus on preventing Iran from
enriching [uranium] to a higher level. Therefore, the era of denial
of Iran´s right to engage in enrichment is over.
"Another profound change is [reflected] in the current rhetoric of
the 5+1. This [body] is adjusting to the new rhetoric of the talks,
which can be called a rhetoric of reciprocal measures. Until now, the
West always demanded that Iran undertake [various] commitments and
measures, but did not consider itself obligated to take any
confidence-building steps [of its own] towards Iran. [It behaved] as
though Iran, and only Iran, had an obligation to assure the West as
to its [nuclear] program... But a careful examination of statements
by Western officials in the last two weeks reveals that... the
rhetoric of unilateral confidence-building measures has vanished
completely, and that the 5+1 has accepted that every Iranian step
must be matched by a [Western] step...
"In her speech at the G8 yesterday, [U.S. Secretary of State]
Hillary Clinton said that the West knew that Iran would demand
guarantees, and that it was willing to consider doing so. Upon his
return from the G8 summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
said, in reference to his meeting with U.S. officials, that all sides
believed in advancing a gradual process, with [the 5+1] taking a step
in response to every step by Iran. The G8 statement likewise said
that [this body] supported the ´step for step´ policy vis-à-vis
"The West´s adoption of the ´step for step´ formula – if indeed
[implemented] – indicates that [the West] has backed down, and that
the 5+1 has realized that the [method] of large demands and small
incentives will lead nowhere.
"A third change [in the West´s attitude] is that the 5+1 is
explicitly interested in continuing the talks with Iran, in any way,
and without even guaranteeing [compliance with] its minimal
[demands]... One reason for this [shift] is that the West has
realized that Iran´s positions are immutable and that there can be no
bargaining over its rights. Another reason is the intense
disagreement within the 5+1 [itself]... Iran´s strategic status in
the region, especially following last year´s Islamic revolutions, as
well as Iran´s national strength and the wisdom of its [supreme]
leader, are the factors that deepened the disagreement within the 5+1
over the correct way to deal with Iran... The intelligence and
strategy assessments of the U.S. and Israel differ greatly from one
another, and differ even more from those of Russia and China.
Consequently, the 5+1 apparently feels the need to buy time in order
to resolve the internal differences..."
The Holding of the Next Round of Talks in Baghdad – Another
Victory for Iran
The fact that the next round of talks will be held in Baghdad, as
Iran demanded, and the fact that this demand was met even before the
first round was held, is yet another victory from the Iranian
perspective. Trita Parsi and Reza Marashi, prominent pro-Iranian
activists in the U.S., wrote in an op-ed: "As nuclear talks between
Iran and the P5+1 commence… the Iranians have made a play to have
negotiations take place in Baghdad, Damascus or Beirut – a not-so-
subtle swipe at the waning influence of the U.S. in key regional
outposts where Iran has pull."
The holding of the next round of talks in Baghdad is an Iranian
victory not only over the West, especially the U.S., but also over
the Sunni Arab states, who are bitter enemies of Shi´ite Iran. Now
Shi´ite Iran will host talks about its nuclear program – which
threatens its Sunni Arab neighbors and adversaries more than anyone
else – right there on Arab land, in Baghdad, which is now subject to
*A. Savyon is director of the Iranian Media Project.
 The Washington Post (US), April 12,
 In the past, Amirahmadi, who maintains close ties
with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior regime
figures, obtained unusual approval from the Obama administration to
open a branch office of an American NGO in Tehran.
 American-iranian.org, accessed April 13,
 Resalat (Iran), April 16, 2012.
 Al-Alam TV (Iran), April 15, 2012.
 ISNA (Iran), April 16, 2012.
 Ebtekar (Iran), April 16, 2012.
 Kayhan (Iran), April 15, 2012.
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 Aljazeera.net, April 14, 2012.
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