Saturday, May 26, 2012

All Or Nothing

This is a refrain most beloved by the Islamic Republic of Iran.  They want it all, and they will have it all.  "All" in this sense is the achievement of the world's greatest and most destructive scientific, technological achievement; the ability to construct a nuclear weapon capable of obliterating life on a grand scale.  The better to chasten their enemies with, nudge, nudge: stand down or you won't stand at all.

Western interlocutors have a tendency to be most generous in speaking of relations with Iran.  Consider that the consensus opinion after the talks that just failed to produce anything of value in Baghdad are thought to have indicated progress despite a total lack of agreement on moving forward with anything, because Iran's usual intransigence was briefly lifted to agree to a meeting at all.

Iran put on its charm offensive.  Stowing away for the moment its usual truculence and demonstrating how utterly and entirely reasonable Tehran is in permitting the West to flagellate it over its perceived intention to produce nuclear weapons, when the truth is, as they keep insisting, their only intention is to produce fuel for completely peaceful means.  To which they are supremely entitled.

And for which their plans will not be forestalled simply because the West, and its creature the IAEA has misgivings about believing the truthfulness of the statements issued by an innocent and peace-minded regime. So reasonable, in fact, that it most helpfully assembled its own sterling list of counter-demands to balance those of the P-5+1. 

All that had to be agreed upon to secure total agreement from Iran was to agree that sanctions would be lifted.  And to agree further that those sanctions would not be re-imposed simply because of some totally irrelevant issue like Iran forgetting about some elements of its promises to suspend enrichment to 20% grade uranium.  And to forget too, how much the regime crowed in triumph, announcing to the world that it had achieved that breakthrough.

Overlook as well that it slipped the regime's mind to inform the IAEA of its intention to build a raid-proof bunker deep underground at the side of a mountain, further buttressed by tonnes of steel and cement.  A holy purpose; the achievement of nuclear power, in obeisance to Allah, who commanded it be done.  Its location close to the holy city of Qom no incidental occasion.

Incidentally, the IAEA's disclosure of uranium discovered to have been enriched well past 20% and to the 29% level seen as an unfortunate error, an oversight, an explicable by-product of firing up all those additional centrifuges that increased their number by 100% at Fordow, should be excused.  The world has been advised there was no malignant intention carrying it forward.

And the crux of the matter is that there will be no suspension of uranium refinement, as demanded of Iran.  For there is no incentive sufficient to persuade the Republic that it might represent itself as truly interested in peace, as it claims, and not the capability of threatening other states, then demonstrating that it can make good on its threat by staging a little demonstration project on Israel.

As it is, Iranian officials are more than a little fed up with the unreasonable and quite unfair paranoia directed toward it by those nervous Western states and the IAEA. They don't appreciate having their time wasted in such a manner.  "This is not a serious extension of what we discussed in Istanbul that offered step-by-step progress", said one in a huff.

Iran has maintained its dignity.  Its nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, offered a five-point counter proposal which was "comprehensive", containing "transparent and practical" measures.  Obviously wasted on the likes of the P-5+1 negotiators and Catherine Ashton.  Who claimed that they were experiencing some difficulties defining precisely what Iran's intention is.

Yet all is not lost.  Another meeting has been scheduled.  Russia to be the host, so much to the good.  "It was a tough day that involved a lot of work trying to clarify the Iranian responses and set up a follow-up process", according to one diplomat who was present.  Present, but obviously not all there.

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