Currently Browsing

Posts Tagged ‘ nuclear negotiations ’

  • 21 June 2013
  • Posted By Layla Oghabian
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

Does Iran’s president play a role in nuclear diplomacy?

With the new president elect Hassan Rouhani and his strong background in nuclear negations, many Iranians are hopeful that US-Iranian relations will take a turn for the better. As part of the pragmatic faction of Iran, which seeks to improve contact with the West, Rouhani claims he will work to bring Iran out of international isolation.

However, a major narrative among analysts and elected officials who have dismissed the election is that the Iranian president is merely a lap dog for the Supreme Leader and things will not change because Ali Khamenei holds the nuclear file.

Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and adjunct professor at Georgetown University, disagrees:

“The Presidents have had enormous impacts on Iran’s nuclear calculations and I would suggest between the years 2003 to 2010 some of the most important initiatives on the nuclear issue were actually initiatives of the Presidential office. The decision in 2003 to suspend the enrichment program was a Presidential initiative that the Supreme Leader agreed to. The decision in 2005 to resume enrichment was a Presidential decision–candidate Ahmadinejad had campaigned on it, obviously the Supreme Leader agreed to that. And much of the initiatives that we saw over the past couple of years including the Turkey-Brazil deal were the initiatives of the President that the Supreme Leader sometimes agreed to, or sometimes didn’t, but he went along with it.”

Speaking at a JINSA panel last week, Takeyh asserted the notion that the “role of the Iranian President is extraneous is flawed.” If Takeyh is correct, the new president-elect Rouhani will indeed play a major role in nuclear deliberations and will have his initiative, as have  previous presidents of Iran.

Flux In Iran affecting its handle on foreign policy, nuclear issues?

In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, Iran expert Ray Takeyh suggested that the Iranian government is preoccupied with internal divisions both among its officials and with a state-society divide that has subsequently impeded its foreign policy.

Takeyh:

I don’t believe at this point that the Islamic Republic has a foreign policy if you classify foreign policy as when a country identifies its interests abroad and tries to achieve them, or as when a country seeks to export its revolution, or as when a country seeks to project its power. The Iranian foreign policy is currently derived almost entirely from domestic political considerations, which are evolving in unpredictable ways.

Further, he suggests Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is using the nuclear negotiations to mitigate international attention on Iran’s domestic turmoil and human rights violations.

Analysts have speculated that changes in the Iran’s political structure, with its increasing shift in power towards its military complex, has been an important factor.  Since June 12, the IRGC has monopolized telecommunications in Iran, violently cracked down on protests and dissidents, and established a new intelligence body led by the former head of the Basij, in effect nullifying the old intelligence ministry.

Recent reports also suggest that Iran has not significantly increased its uranium enrichment since September. Motives for the slower production are unclear. From the outside, it is unclear whether adjustments are being made due to shifting concerns in light of both domestic unrest as well as what appears to be a changing political structure, not to mention the ongoing negotiations with P-5+1 countries.

Reuters:

While Iran‘s stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) has likely risen by 200-300 kg from 1,500 kg reported by U.N. monitors in August, the number of operating centrifuge machines at its Natanz enrichment plant has remained at about 4,600, they said.

Iran‘s potential enrichment capacity was much higher. It had installed at least 8,700 centrifuges in all by late September, diplomats said. A fresh figure was not yet available.

But it was unclear why almost half the centrifuges were not yet enriching, remaining idle or undergoing vacuum tests.

Diplomats and analysts said possible reasons ranged from technical glitches to politically motivated restraint, to avoid closing the door to diplomacy with world powers and provoking harsher international sanctions or even Israeli military action.

“The situation is now pretty much as it was in September,” said a senior diplomat in Vienna, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, is based. Officials at Iran‘s IAEA mission were unavailable for comment.

The IAEA’s report on its visit to Iran’s Qom facility is also due next week, but Mohamed ElBaradei has previously suggested the facility is no more than “a hole in a mountain,” built as a backup facility in case of military strikes from an external source.

“The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen”

“‘The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen,” IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei has told the New York Times. ElBaradei’s comments come in light of Iran’s apparent unwillingness or even inability to accept the deal that their own diplomats negotiated with the P5+1 and the IAEA.

While the talks were successful in getting the IAEA access to Iran’s nuclear facility under construction in Qom, Iran’s government rejected the deal (verbally) on the grounds that they were not willing to trust Russia or France with the majority of their low-enriched uranium stockpile.

ElBaradei came up with a clever response, which was to find a third party country that both sides could trust that would hold the uranium – with Turkey appearing to be the most likely candidate.

However, instead of responding favorably to this deal, Iran simply responded with their own counter-proposal. It certainly plays into the narrative presented by CFR Iran expert Ray Takeyh on Friday:

In the coming months, Iran will no doubt seek to prolong negotiations by accepting and then rejecting agreed-upon compacts and offering countless counter-proposals. The United States and its allies must decide how to approach an Iranian diplomatic stratagem born out of cynical desire to clamp down on peaceful dissent with relative impunity.

International scrutiny remains trained on Iran’s nuclear program, but outside that glare, the structure and orientation of the Revolutionary Guards are changing dramatically. The regime in Tehran is establishing the infrastructure for repression. The leadership of the Guards and the paramilitary Basij force have been integrated and are much more focused on vanquishing imaginary plots by a (nonexistent) fifth column.

Takeyh then argues — as we have been — that human rights should should be elevated in the talks with Iran. Takeyh then takes it a step further:

Western officials would be smart to disabuse Iran of the notion that its nuclear infractions are the only source of disagreement. Iran’s hard-liners need to know that should they launch their much-advertised crackdown, the price for such conduct may be termination of any dialogue with the West.

Radio Free Liberty also talked to a number of reformists who argue any deal that ignores human rights will be fundamentally flawed and likely viewed with suspicion.

Reformist journalist Serajedin Mirdamadi, who campaigned for opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi ahead of the contentious June election, tells Radio Farda that a deal with Tehran that is solely focused on the nuclear issue will not be a lasting one.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: