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  • Negotiations Should Be Based on Realities Not Illusions (Gholamali Khoshroo)

    By: Gholamali Khoshroo
    Senior Editor of the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Islam

    As its name denotes, an agreement is a complicated issue which should be
    dealt with in a suitable opportunity and in due time. Therefore, no
    negotiations aimed at achieving an agreement can be expected to reach a
    rapid result. However, negotiations that have been held so far [between
    Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers over Tehran’s nuclear energy
    program] have relatively progressed in a suitable way and, therefore, they
    can be expected to reach good results in the future. Also, efforts made by
    Iran to prove that its nuclear energy program is transparent and peaceful,
    in addition to Tehran’s show of respect for all international rules and
    regulations clearly prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been – and
    still is – ready to address and resolve such concerns on the part of
    international community. Therefore:

    1. At first, it should be made clear whether other parties to nuclear
    talks with Iran are actually concerned about Iran’s nuclear energy program
    being non-peaceful, or are in reality looking to first limit and then
    totally dismantle the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities. If they
    really seek to have their concerns dispelled, they should note that
    through its unprecedented cooperation with International Atomic Energy
    Agency (IAEA) and by showing total transparency with regard to its nuclear
    energy program, Iran has already proven that the other parties’ concerns
    are not based on objective evidence and are mostly the result of illusions
    and propaganda. However, if the other negotiating parties are actually
    seeking to achieve other goals, it goes without saying that under such
    conditions no negotiations can be successful. Up to the present time, it
    seems that the other negotiating parties are apparently trying to reach an
    agreement with Iran over all the aspects of the country’s nuclear case. In
    trying to achieve this goal, the negotiating parties may face some simple
    and some more difficult issues. However, there are two points that raise
    hope in the success of the ongoing nuclear negotiations. Firstly, it
    should be noted that the time frame for reaching an agreement as well as
    the full scope of Iran’s nuclear activities, especially the uranium
    enrichment process, are complicated issues in nature and it would take
    some time before the negotiating parties manage to reach a comprehensive
    agreement on these issues. The second consideration which will help the
    success of negotiations is the high emphasis put by the Iranian
    negotiating team on transparency over the country’s nuclear activities
    while the opposite parties have actually accepted Iran’s right to peaceful
    use of nuclear energy within framework of international regulations.

    2. At present, both sides suffer from a mutual lack of trust. The
    Americans are distrustful of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This pessimism
    and distrust has its roots in extensive Iranophobic efforts, which have
    caused the West in general to look upon Iran’s realities with permanent
    doubt and pessimism. Therefore, even when faced with the factual reports
    of the IAEA [about Iran’s nuclear energy program], the Western countries
    still look for illusionary excuses to shape the realities on the basis of
    their own mentality. They have already a mentality and they want to shape
    all the realities on the ground according to that mentality. Therefore, if
    they are sincerely concerned about Iran’s nuclear energy program, they
    should put the highest emphasis on the need for Iran to show transparency
    about its nuclear activities, instead of forming their mentality on the
    basis of total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear energy program. They should
    pay due attention to the IAEA's reports on Iran’s nuclear activities as
    well. During the past four months that have lapsed since the [interim]
    agreement [reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in the
    Swiss city of Geneva last November], the IAEA has conducted very extensive
    and complicated inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities all of which have
    proven beyond any doubt the legal nature of Iran’s nuclear activities.
    Therefore, the negotiating parties with Iran should pay due attention to
    these realities and avoid of coming up with new excuses every day in order
    to put more pressure on the Iranian side.

    3. Another point which should be emphasized here is that after Iran takes
    all the trust building measures, which are expected from it, the other
    parties should make a final decision on lifting the sanctions they have
    imposed against the Islamic Republic. It would be against the letter and
    spirit of the agreement, which the two sides are supposed to reach, to
    expect Iran to go through the bureaucratic maze of the other negotiating
    parties – for example, to wait for final decisions of the US Congress or
    the United Nations Security Council – in order to have sanctions removed.
    The other negotiating parties cannot expect Iran to abide by its
    obligations as per the agreement while sanctions continue relentlessly. Of
    course, it is quite natural for Iran to comply with its obligations and
    prove beyond any doubt the peaceful nature of its nuclear energy program,
    but the other parties should, for their part, take the necessary steps to
    totally remove anti-Iran sanctions. Of course, sanctions imposed on Iran
    have many aspects. There are certain sanctions, which have been imposed by
    the UN Security Council while another part of sanctions have been imposed
    by the US Congress and are considered transnational measures taken by the
    United States, and there are also sanctions, which have been imposed by
    third countries that previously cooperated with Iran in various fields.
    These sanctions are very unfair and at loggerheads with all the norms of
    international law. Finally, there are unilateral sanctions imposed by the
    member states of the European Union against the Islamic Republic. All
    these sanctions should be removed. In other words, if negotiations [over
    Iran’s nuclear energy program] are supposed to bear fruit, all kinds of
    sanctions should be gradually removed in proportion to measures taken by
    the Iranian side. This, however, has not been the case so far. The Western
    countries have shown that they are not willing to lift anti-Iran sanctions
    and are, in fact, using these sanction as a means of mounting pressure on
    Iran over its nuclear energy program. In doing so, they have largely
    ignored the fact that in their entirety, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear
    activities are legal and within framework of the regulations enshrined in
    the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). At present, there is no doubt that all
    nuclear activities of Iran are peaceful and carried out with total

    4. Last but not least, we are dealing with a duality here and the Iranian
    negotiating team has been trying to make it clear what Iran is going to
    achieve in return for the confidence building measures that it is supposed
    to take. If Iran is simply going to see ambiguous responses with regard to
    sanctions, for example, if Tehran is supposed to wait for a decision by
    the US Congress or go through a lengthy procedure through the UN Security
    Council, or wait for the green light from all the member states of the
    European Union before sanctions are lifted, it is clear that such
    responses are vague at best and will not help nuclear talks to reach the
    desirable result.

    *Gholamali Khoshroo is the Senior Editor of the Encyclopedia of
    Contemporary Islam and Former Deputy Foreign Minister for legal and
    International Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran (2002-2005). Khoshroo is
    assistant of President Khatami on “Alliance of civilizations” and Dialogue
    among Civilizations”. He has served as the Dean of the School for
    International Relations (1983-89); Ambassador to the United Nations
    (19890-95); Deputy Foreign Minister for Research and Education,  Member of
    OIC Commission of Eminent Persons on “Enlightened Moderation”. In recent
    years, he has extensively worked on the development of contemporary
    political Islam and its implication for western societies. As a
    sociologist he studied at Tehran University and New School for Social
    Research, New York, He has published several articles and books on
    political and cultural affairs.

    Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)

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