On Nov. 29th nuke talks are scheduled to resume in Vienna.
The talks were suspended in June so that, presumably, Iran could coordinate a presidential election and a new president. Ebrahim Raisi assumed his post in August. Now, 6 months later, the talks will resume.
Did Iran really need time off to coordinate an election whose results were decided in advance of actual ballots being cast? No, not really.
The real reason the talks were called off is because Iran wanted them called off. And the real reason they are now rescheduled is because Iran has agreed — has deigned, to once again sit down and "talk."
Iran has the world over the proverbial barrel. The Islamic Republic of Iran, once known as Persia, is directing both the tone and the substance of the talks.
When the talks began, they were between Iran and the group called the P5+1. P5+1 stands for the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.
When these talks resume they will be between Iran and the P4+1. Why the change? What happened? Why P4 and not P5?
The answer is that the United States will not be in the room. They will be nearby — but not there. The United States will, officially, be "monitoring" the meeting.
What this really means is that the U.S. will be on Zoom. It will be able to communicate with its P4 partners, should they wish and even, if necessary, with the Iranians.
There is very little chance of success from these talks and not because the United States has removed its presence from the room. Simply put, the talks that the world is so anxious to see resume is viewed so dramatically differently by the parties, that there is little to no chance of finding common ground.
For the P5+1, the meeting in Vienna is about nuclear negotiations. They want to bring Iran back into the realm of the famous/infamous "Nuke Deal" — which is officially known as the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action.
The permanent members of the Security Council are united in wanting Iran to conform to their previous commitments in the "Nuke Deal." In truth, they are Pollyanna-ish if they actually believe that this will be the results of the meeting.
Actually, Iran's chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, has made that point perfectly clear. He said that there is no nuclear negotiation taking place at all.
He said that the nuclear issue is not even a topic for discussion. He said that the talks are about "lifting the illegal and inhumane sanctions against Iran."
Iran's new president Raisi backed him up. On Iranian State TV Raisi explained that: "The negotiations we are considering are result-oriented ones. We will not leave the negotiating table ... but we will not retreat from the interests of our nation in any way … Iran seeks the lifting of all U.S. sanctions and neutralization of sanctions."
Iran's message is very clear. It knows what it wants and it knows how it will get what it wants.
And now, in advance of the talks, we know it, too. In essence, the world has been warned.
As if offering an olive branch, Iran has promised to, once again, permit IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors back into its nuclear facilities. It is a small lure it is offering to show the P5+1 that it is willing to make sacrifices.
But is it really? These inspections are part of the original deal.
Nuclear facility inspections are part of a set of agreements that far pre-date the JPCOA. It should not come as a surprise that Iran breached these agreements and in the negotiations for the JCPOA it dangled the same lure in front of the P5+1.
International inspections of Iran's nukes have never been freely available.
And Iran has no intention of turning back the clock.
Now, right now, Iran is enriching uranium to 60%. That is way over the 3.67% levels agreed upon in the JCPOA. It's also way above — three times above, the very small amount of up to 20% that was permitted for scientific and medical research in one — and only one — facility.
Science and technology cannot be unlearned. The genie cannot be put back into the bottle. Once Iran learned how to enrich to a certain level, the ceiling was raised.
Iran is so proud of the advance it has made despite being prohibited from making those advances that Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, actually announced that: "So far we have produced 25 kilograms of 60% uranium, which, except for countries with nuclear weapons, no other country is able to produce."
What's really happening is that Iran is promising to allow inspections in exchange for what they really want — the lifting of sanctions. And the P5+1 might actually accept this preposterous offer, once again, falling in step with the Iranian plan.
The years of stiff sanctions did not bring Iran to collapse. The Western world has not achieved its goal of limiting Iran's race to achieve nuclear capability. So, as opposed to tightening sanctions against Iran, why not just go ahead and ease them.
Iran is racing toward nuclear weapons. And right now, the P5+1 might act as Iran's facilitator.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.
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