Iran nuclear deadline: Showdown in Vienna

This is it? No one knows. As foreign ministers gather in Vienna ahead of the June 30 deadline, an Iranian government source tells Asia Times it’s a “done deal.” For days, there have been no leaks, certainly to prevent hardliners on both sides – Iran and especially the U.S. – from ruining it at five seconds to midnight.

Realistically, all the myriad complex components are not there for a conclusive nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. Not yet. Iranian deputy lead negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi said earlier this week that “progress is not as expected.” Both presidents, Obama and Rouhani, badly want it, while both hardcore lobbies — in Washington and Tehran — are keen on derailing it.

Witness an open letter by the usual suspects, some of them former Obama advisers, stating, “the agreement will not prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapons capability” – which is a flat-out lie; and predicting the deal will “fall short of meeting the administration’s own standard of a ‘good’ agreement,” which implies they are fully briefed on all the negotiation’s nuances, and they’re not.

Predictably, the open letter was published by the neocon-infested and rabid anti-Iran WINEP think tank; signatories include disgraced former Iraq and Afghanistan surge schemer Gen. David Petraeus and Dennis Ross – who never “negotiated” anything that didn’t put Israel’s interests ahead of the US.

Bets can be made that the June 30 deadline won’t hold; this may go on until the end of next week at least. As a nail-biting finish that is not – yet – a finish, it’s unrivalled. Especially for global businesses – not least the energy industry – who are getting ready for a tectonic geopolitical shift; Iran finally “rehabilitated” in the West (yes, because with the East it’s always been business as usual.)

It’s a gas, gas, gas

It’s no surprise Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei had to lay down Iran’s red lines ahead of June 30. After all, the April 2 Lausanne “package” which is the basis for the current negotiations leading to a possible final Vienna deal is deliberately hazy – and subject to conflicting interpretations, especially over the timing for sanctions to be totally lifted.

Khamenei insists sanctions by the UN and the US should be lifted as soon as a deal is signed; Washington will never agree, as the State Department insists this is first of all about IAEA “verification”, then easing of sanctions.

The same applies for Tehran not accepting to be restricted on nuclear research and development for ten years. Even Russia and China agree Iran must comply with “verification” – under the framework of a civilian nuclear program.

The point is not the Supreme Leader is plying a D.O.A. deal. The point is Khamenei, for complex internal purposes, must keep potentially unruly ultra-conservatives and hardliners on board. And because the Lausanne package’s rhetoric is deliberately pliable, he can play along with the red lines – always emphasizing Iran’s “heroic,” or “brave and faithful” negotiators, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The fact also remains that no one knows which will be the language on the final deal – until a detailed written agreement is endorsed by the Iranian Parliament and the US Congress. So for the moment, we’re in Nietzsche territory; there are no facts, only interpretations.

But what the business world is salivating for, are facts. Every energy major has its eyes set on Tehran, discussing post-sanctions serious business. Italy’s ENI has been talking. Same for Shell. Same for BP (although they don’t acknowledge it.) In the case of Shell there’s the matter of the $2 billion it owes to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) – unpaid because of sanctions.

Iran holds at least 30 million barrels of oil in storage. So will there be an oil flood in the weeks to come (with the Chinese buying everything)? It depends on what sanctions are to be immediately lifted. And this means oil prices falling – which is something Russia and Saudi Arabia, considering the recent meeting in St. Petersburg between Putin and the House of Saud, are not exactly keen on at the moment.

It will be a slow process. According to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, Iran is ready to increase production by around one million barrels a day after sanctions are lifted. Currently, Iran produces around 2.7 million barrels a day and exports 1 million. Realistically, Iran may add 600,000 barrels a day by the end of 2017. Further than that, it needs a lot of infrastructure investment.

Same for the gas industry. At the World Gas Conference earlier this month in Paris, NIOC’s Azizollah Ramezani said Iran will increase production from 800 million to 1.2 billion cubic meters a day up to 2020. But for that to happen, it needs at least $100 billion in investment from European energy majors. It’s all there, tantalizingly, on the horizon, a Chinese-style “win-win” for both Iran and Europe. But first, the showdown in Vienna.



Categories: AT Top Writers, Empire of Chaos, Middle East, Pepe Escobar

Tags: , , ,

  • Eddied

    If Iran cannot agree to UN inspections the Deal will be dead on arrival…if they want to join the world of nations they will need to concede on these inspections…

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    From the very beginning of the Iranian nuclear program Tehran has faced full opposition from the West. There was not a single moment where support, or even a neutral stand was taken by the US and other western powers. It was made worse by Israel’s insistence that this program be taken out. Iranian nuclear scientists faced assassination and assassination attempts.
    The tension was ratcheted up by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fiery speeches to annihilate Israel using this technology. Looking back at his threats they were empty threats for the reaction to such an attack would have destroyed Iran.
    The US sanctions against Iran to force Tehran to comply, were relentless. In the face of this I sincerely doubt that Tehran is going to “bend” to Western dictates as to the regulations the West wants to impose on Iran regarding her nuclear program.
    It becomes even less so when Moscow is in support of Iran and has signed agreements on the issue of nuclear technology to Iran. It almost becomes a farce when China plans to eventually extend her Silk routes through Pakistan and into Iran.

  • worldblee

    You mean UN inspections like Israel has on their (actual and deadly as opposed to nonexistent like Iran’s) nuclear weapons and nuclear sites?

  • AriusArmenian

    The world of nations which is defined as the US and its vassals in the Anglosphere and EU? Iran is joined to the rest of the world which of course doesn’t matter to the ‘indispensable and exceptional’ lunatics.

  • Eddied

    Iran can join North Korea and syria etc. or it can be a part of the civilized free world…it will be their decision..

  • Eddied

    Israel has not signed on to any similar agreement…

  • mulga mumblebrain

    There were NO speeches by Ahmadinejad, fiery or otherwise, ‘..to annihilate Israel using this technology’. The US NIEs have consistently declared NO Iranian weapons program and the IAEA has always stated, after its rigorous inspections, that there have been NO diversions of nuclear material from the civilian nuclear program, Iran’s NPT right.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Iran has had rigorous IAEA inspections all along. The NAM of 114 has UNANIMOUSLY declared Iran’s civilian nuclear program its NPT right. The ‘world of nations’ under your definition apparently does not contain most of the world’s population. Western racism and supremacism at its most unabashed.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    The ‘civilized ‘free’ world’ like Israel, the murderer of over 2,000 Palestinian children since 2000 and the USA the murderer of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children since 1991. That ‘free’ (the word in this context is nauseating)world, is it?

  • mulga mumblebrain

    International Law does not apply to ‘Gods upon the Earth’.

  • Eddied

    Yes the Muslim world is in turmoil…of its own making…you forget it is Muslims that are killing Muslims in Muslim countries…there are no Israelis welcome in the hate filled Muslim world..

  • jeff davis

    “The tension was ratcheted up by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s fiery speeches to annihilate Israel using this technology.”

    Total bull.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Mulga
    I go by the same route you go, the news. I heard Ahmadinejad on the TV, I read about his speeches and threats. Now we both may have got bad news. Yours is that he never said that and mine is that he did. So which news is correct since I was not standing next to him. were you?

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Google “Threats Iranian leaders made against Israel 2013”. they list far more than Ahmadinejad.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Please Google “Threats Iranian Leaders made against Israel 2013” They list in detail what they said and goes far beyond Ahmadinejad.

  • ross

    i would posit that israeli threats to iran outweigh iran threats to israel to the order of magnitude of the equivalent number of dead turkish flotilla activists. wouldn’t you say?

  • ross

    Ah yes – the civilized free world. That would be the Dreamtime in Aboriginal Australia pre European contact. Unfortunately, they are not represented in Vienna.

  • ross

    … if they did, that would imply they had a sense of humanity.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Ross
    I agree that Israel is the most powerful nation in the Middle East. Iran knows that.
    In my opinion it is not between Tel Aviv and Tehran. It is between Persian Iran and her Arab neighbors. the saber rattling regarding Israel from Iran puts more fear into her Arab neighbors than with Israel. Iran threatens Israel while (figuratively) pointing a gun at her Arab neighbors.

  • ross

    sir, i believe your paradigm is affected by the age old imperial ideology of divide and conquer. if I look at history I don’t see a lot of evidence to suggest iran is an existential threat to her arab neighbours. What i do see is the fabricated claims which amount to such. These claims serve two purposes: 1. To provide a convenient excuse for the sanctions regime – without which Iran would eventually outcompete the Arabs into geopolitical supremacy in the Middle East. 2. To deflect the egregious human rights abuses by the two major opponents to Iranian ascendancy. Take the nuclear issue. Israel has nukes. There is no international pressure for them to disarm, sign the NPT or even allow investigators. Why the double standards? Saudi Arabia just launched a war of aggression in Yemen (where’s NATO now Gaddafi would ask), and is a huge factor in the ISIS group financially, and in weaponization and manpower. And yet there is no serious effort to suppress the benefactors of ISIS, and almost a tacit support of the group in Iraq and Syria by the west (especially if it’s fighting Assad). I’ll add a third point. 3. To inflame the Sunni Shia divide, without which the Muslim world might just get its act together and exclude from the Middle East all external interference to the detriment of powers that need its energy reserves (which I believe is the basis of Ahmadinejad’s pledge to wipe the Zionist regime from the page of time – he knowing that it is an installed political entity with little to do with the ethnic history of Palestine). So my good man. Ask yourself: when you look at history and the geopolitics of the current situation – who stands to lose most if Iran peacefully rises to become a stable state with an independent banking system, outside the sphere of US imperialism and with ample energy reserves?

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Zionist agit-prop, from various Iranian figures many of dubious importance, most threatening attack in retaliation after and Israeli or US or joint strikes on Iran. None seem to include Ahmadinejad, whose infamous ‘wipe Israel off the map’ statement was a deliberate mistranslation by the Judeofascist propaganda system. A system that has worked hand in glove with Israeli and other Judeofascist threats against Iran, of attack including nuclear attack. I have very little time for the Iranian theocrats, but in comparison with the monsters who rule Israel and the USA they seem almost saintly.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Ahmadinejad said, quoting Khomenei, that Israel would, like the USSR, ‘disappear from the pages of history’, plainly a prediction of a peaceful demise, like that of the USSR. It was tendentiously mistranslated by the Mossad outfit MEMRI, a tremendous producer of hate propaganda against Arabs and Moslems. So what you thought you saw, was a lie. Do you speak and comprehend spoken Farsi?

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Jews live in Iran and are present in the Parliament.Israelis travel to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt etc, and, even if some people are rude to them because of the Israeli state’s barbarism inflicted on the Palestinians, generally they go about their business unmolested. I do appreciate the vicious imbecility of blaming the Moslems for the USA’s aggression against Iraq based on known lies, in 2003. It is evidence of that type of fanatic race and sectarian hatred and xenophobia that ignores, or celebrates, the millions of Moslems deaths since 1947, and particularly since 1980.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Ross
    Got your comment. The threat to the Arab world is seen by how they have reacted to the rise of a nuclearized Iran, Now they too want to get this technology,. The Arab world no longer places this aspect of their security in the US, which was their traditional ally. From a previous article I came to understand that Saudi Arabia already has some nuclear devices given to her by Pakistan.
    As you know (Sunni)Saudi Arabia and (Shiite/Persian) Iran also have been rivals as to who really is the leader of the Muslim world. Regardless of Mecca, Medina and Jeddah, Tehran believes she holds that title.
    Now that has changed since the arrival of China and the SCO and Russia and the CSTO.
    Their entrance into the Middle East has intensified some aspects. Recently Saudi Arabia signed deals with Moscow, which is considered unusual. Iran is in line to be part of the SCO & Silk routes of China. Both Russia and China then have a vested interest in the Security Council to thwart the US, France, and the UK on issues that go against their interest in that region.
    Simply put the rise of a nuclearized, weaponized Iran brings with it both blessings and problems to that region.
    Ross
    Please understand that is just my take on this.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Mulga
    Got your comment.
    You have stated your opinion very clearly. I cannot agree or disagree since your comment does not ask for that. But it is interesting to see what your angle on this issue is.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Mulga
    Got your comment.
    You ended with a question. That opens up an issue I have observed across the world, with leaders of nations, and clerics of faith. they say one thing, in their own language, to the locals, and then they say something completely different when addressing the world. Regardless if this is Farsi, Hindi, Sinhalese, etc. there seems to be two or maybe three ways of saying the same thing, depending on who they address.

  • jeff davis

    I googled as you recommended, regarding Iranian “threats”. I find, not unsurprisingly, a number of websites from Jewish-/Israel-friendly websites at the top of the list, that predictably report the comments of Iranian personalities, spinning them so as to emphasise the political hostility they convey. Are these threats, or are they merely statements of intense political condemnation?

    I considered this a while. There can be no question but that the comments have an aggressive and forceful character, a threatening tone even. Yet, there is a problem, a problem whose source is to be found in the conflicting narratives regarding the nature of the Zionist entity.

    The West refers to the Zionist entity as “ the State of Israel” and conveys, by referring to it in that manner, a legitimacy consistent with the Zionist/Western narrative, which is the accepted view of the majority of the Western world. Much of the rest of the world, and the Muslim world in particular has a strikingly different view, based on a different narrative. They see “Israel” as a racist, settler colony imposed by force of arms on a non-offending and unwilling majority population; they see a violent and aggressive Imperial — essentially criminal — enterprise achieved by conquest and foreign intrigue. Their “narrative” — their version of reality which — full disclosure I, despite being an American and a Jew, share with them — is that the Zionist entity is nothing less than a geopolitical crime-in-progress.

    The “geopolitical crime-in-progress” view has striking downstream effects on a whole range of definitions:

    A geopolitical crime-in-progress can have no sovereign legitimacy. A criminal enterprise can have no right to exist. The perpetrators of a criminal enterprise can have no right to self-defense because a priori, criminal activity has no legitimacy, and so by definition is indefensible. The perpetrators of a criminal enterprise clearly have no “right” to employ violence in the commission of their crimes, nor do they have the right to employ violence in their so-called “defense” when the legitimate authority arrives to intervene and put an end to their criminal activity.

    Consequently, what the Western/Zionist narrative considers “threats”, the Muslim world (dare I say the law-abiding world!) views as the legitimate license to resort when necessary to the use of force in order to secure the peace and enforce justice. In short, the threat of force by “the police” — ie. legitimate authority — is a completely different sort of “threat” than that from an unjustified hostile belligerent. The “threat” of justice come to assert itself is not that other sort of threat, because it is legitimate.

    What one makes of Iranian “threats” therefore depends on one’s chosen “narrative”.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Jeff
    At least you have to come to the conclusion that this is not a cut and dry issue that no statements of annihilating Israel were made. I find your reference to Israel as the “Zionist entity” along the same lines if I called Iran the “state of Islamic terrorism”. If i did that I would have many commenters literally screaming at me for being “Islamaphobic”. I try to treat this area with an objective point of view.

  • jeff davis

    (“Where’s NATO now?” Gaddafi would ask.)

    A little help for the sake of clarity.

  • jeff davis

    Bernard,

    I very much appreciate your civility and your effort at objectivity(keep working on that. 😉 ). Polarity and passion make it very difficult, rare even, to have a thoughtful discussion on these issues.

    I googled “civility” for a definition — “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech” — but I’d prefer something along the lines of “a calm and respectful manner reflecting a confident civilized nature.”

    Best, Jeff Davis

    “Everything’s hard till you know how to do it.”
    Ray Charles

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Jeff
    to quote you ” Polarity and passion make it very difficult, rare even, to have a thoughtful discussion on these issues.”

    I cannot agree with you more on that. great having this conversation with you. Thank you for the saying from Ray Charles. It is very true.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    My ‘angle’ Bernard is that I am repulsed by the USA and Israel seeking another sacrificial victim to ‘Shock and Awe’ and murder millions of its citizens, as in Iraq Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza. I am sick of evil mass murderers screaming orders, the MSM presstitutes regurgitating their lies and Western politicians falling into line, scared rigid lest they offend the Fifth Columns of their ‘Israel Lobbies’.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Particularly marked in regard to Hebrew and the US national lingo, described by the Native Americans, who would know, as ‘forked-tongue’. Obama, for example, speaks perfect ‘Forked Tongue’.

  • mulga mumblebrain

    Excellent comment. Israei threats to nuke all and sundry, including the Soviet Union, in order to start a nuclear war in 1973, Europe, and, in one notorious instance published in the Los Angeles Times, in order to cause a nuclear winter as a fit punishment for a ‘Jew-hating world’ (pure psychological projection, of course)are numerous, but all completely suppressed by the Western MSM. I wonder why, but not a lot or for long.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    No Mulga
    You are sick of the exercise of Power. You show me a modern powerful nation that has not abused her power? You show me any empire in history, both within the Eastern world and the Western world that when they had a lot of power they used it.
    when power is used it is seldom a pretty sight. I will give you helping hand. Zero in on the Ashokan Empire that everyone loves to point as the example of a massive Empire NOT abusing power and I will take that opinion apart bit by bit. you show me power and its use and you will find out it does not have any religion, nationality or ethnicity to it.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Mulga
    I have seen you on the Hindustan Times. We have written to each other. If not I apologize.
    When you drag out the Native Americans please keep in mind the Indian tribal people, also called the Adivasi. they number 100 million in India. they are so maltreated many end up in the slave industry which India is home to half the world slaves (or 15 million out of a world estimate of 30 million). they do not have any say on their lands, which are expropriated by New Delhi and India’s corporations for the massive mineral wealth. they are brutalized. Stop with the US bashing if you really give a hoot about human right abuses.

  • Syn Hope

    True. I agree.

  • Syn Hope

    In Farsi, Ahmedenijad said, Zionist Regime Will come down. The same is said by Khomeini.

  • Syn Hope

    In Farsi, Ahmedenijad said, Zionist Regime Will come down. The same is said by Khomeini. Also, no less than 500 times Iran was threatened by America and Israel ”ALL OPTIONS ARE ON THE TABLE”. To the point that Israeli airforce was practising runs openly. And how come nobody talks of 300 nuclear weapons of Israel. Nobody does. This is nuclear apartheid.

  • Syn Hope

    In Farsi, Ahmedenijad said, Zionist Regime Will come down. The same is said by Khomeini. Also, no less than 500 times Iran was threatened by America and Israel ”ALL OPTIONS ARE ON THE TABLE”. To the point that Israeli airforce was practising runs openly. And how come nobody talks of 300 nuclear weapons of Israel. Nobody does. This is nuclear apartheid. That is bizarre.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Got comment. thank you.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Iran’s nuclear program is her own choice. From what I have read it was the result of the Nuclear bazaar set up by Pakistan’s nuclear father Khan. He openly admitted to selling this technology to Iran and North Korea. the US nor Israel penalized Pakistan for this blatant proliferation of Nuclear weapons technology. Neither nation then has the moral high ground to attack these nations when they refuse to address the transgressions made by Pakistan at that time.
    The connection between Iran and Israel was blown out of proportion for Israel is not only a nuclear weapons nation but has a strong defense system against missiles and Nuclear attacks. No Arab nation has either.

  • Jim, Bangladesh

    Dooms day awaiting for house of saud & GCC inc.

  • smukster

    Let’s wait and see the twists to come.
    This is too big a story to just play out like clockwork, imho.
    I don’t know what will happen, but it would definitely surprise me if everything went smoothly as we expect today.

    There’s several wars in the region, a possible “revolution” underway in Armenia, a BRICS/ SCO meeting coming up, global alliances shifting all over the place…

  • Jack Temujin

    No matter what Iran says about their nuke program, Israel and their lapdogs in the West will say it’s for weapons. Iran needn’t worry about anybody attacking them, because Russo-Sino alliance will respond with WW3.