Iran nuke deal — what’s cookin’ at the Vienna table: Escobar

VIENNA – As the clock ticks towards a – possible? – Iran nuclear deal, sources very close to Iranian negotiators expressed to Asia Times their frustration about American negotiators; they seem not to be prepared, yet, to make a clear choice between keeping some UN Security Council sanctions and getting an agreement.

Asia Times has also learned that the major – extremely contentious – point at the negotiating table concerns the operation of the Joint Commission dispute resolution mechanism. None of the P5+1 players want this to be leaked – yet.

As for an overview of the status of negotiations, Iranian officials are cautious; “Still undecided.” A good sign is that the general language on how sanctions are to be lifted, including the “simultaneous and parallel” principle, is already decided. The negotiations advancing towards this make or break weekend are now focused on “operational details”.

Still, there are serious divisions within the P5+1, especially over key aspects of what the UN Security Council should be doing; on the complex mechanism through which sanctions would be lifted; and on access – the famous “verification” regime. That leads Iranian negotiators to a quirky formulation; “We can say with authority that they have to spend more time negotiating among themselves than negotiating with us.” At the same time the Iranians acknowledge the problems faced by the Obama administration; “They have to go through so many difficult channels.”

Over the past few days, stonewalling by the U.S. side has run – in parallel — with anti-deal lobby machinations now introducing Divide and Rule inside the Iranian political decision system, pitting factions against each other.

Every diplomat in Vienna knows that every single day with a deal in limbo is a perfect day for the anti-deal lobby, be it in Washington, Tehran, Tel Aviv or Riyadh.

The word in Washington is all over sunny Vienna – mixing with music students playing Mozart outside of the Staatsoper; what must be done to avoid the wrath of the powerful Beltway anti-deal lobby. Iranian-Americans openly comment, “there is so much money available to undermine the deal.”

On the key access issue, even though the 24-day period for resolving an access to a particular site inside Iran was already agreed at by the Lausanne framework, French Foreign Minister Fabius has spun it as “Iran wants 24 days” — making it look like this was a new demand by Iran to change the framework agreement.

That is entirely false. Well, Fabius is not exactly Talleyrand. On Thursday, he came up with the fabulously vapid French rhetorical formula of a deal based on “constructive robustness.” What a pity Karl Kraus is not alive to write a Last Days of Self-Important Mankind.

Robert Musil to the rescue

Iranian negotiators consider that IAEA head Yukiya Amano had a “good visit” to Tehran.

They are now breaking it all down as two different approaches in trying to resolve the ultra-contentious issue of access; the “access-based approach,” based on a list of people and places the IAEA wants to interview/visit, or an “issues-base approach.”

The US government, during the negotiations, had proposed a list of 18 scientists to be screened/interviewed. Iran said no. “So now we are going back to the issues-based approach,” says an Iranian negotiator.

“The problem with that is the access approach had objective criteria for lifting sanctions. In the issues-based approach, the IAEA gets to make qualitative judgments. We don’t want the IAEA to be making qualitative decisions.” That breaks it down to virtually no one in the Global South entirely trusting the highly politicized IAEA.

On the by now legendary issue of “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of the nuclear program – or Iran being asked to prove a negative – the Lausanne framework contained language on “an agreed set of measures” (on PMD) to allow the lifting of sanctions. This is the language that is still being negotiated.

Here’s the US version. Or at least, was the U.S. version. As the State Department itself admits, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif received a select group of four independent journalists, including this correspondent, for a no-holds-barred conversation of almost an hour and a half this past Tuesday. There was a subsequent meeting on Thursday. All the previous points were touched upon, in detail.

Zarif – although immensely tired – exhales an almost Buddhist vibe; he even took time to appear at the balcony of the Palais Coburg in a cheerful mood (“I want to enjoy the sun”). The message, to a global audience, could not be more powerful. What about John Kerry? Is he ready to step up his game, or just remain a pale shadow of Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities?

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

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  • Skalla

    The US is not good at negotiating because it has not yet realized that time is playing against it. The US is starting its long descent from superpower into normality and it is tempted to go with a bang instead of a whimper, so its politics are even more fuzzy than they were before ….

  • Cuchulain

    Mr. Putin may as well have been referring to negotiating with any American government representative when he said;

    with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon… the pigeon knocks over all the
    pieces, shits on the board and then struts around like it won the game.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    At the end of the day Iran will have her way.
    Since the onset of Iran’s nuclear program Tehran had to face world criticism, Sanctions and even being ostracized. She had to fend for herself, face assassinations and attempts to kill her Nuclear Scientists, while the world, especially the Western Media roundly condemned her. There was no respite.
    Iran’s nuclear program succeeded in spite of all of this. I doubt that Tehran will feel the need to work with the same nations that tried in every way, to sabotage her Nuclear program
    It becomes an impossibility when Russia is willing to work with Iran on Nuclear related issues and China is willing to include Iran in her SCO to her Silk routes.

  • toumanbeg

    Only fuzzy to you. Every time I hear about America’s decline I laugfh and ask; “Who replaces us?” I hope that America withdraws from the world. Build fortress America and then sit back and watch the rest of you die on youtube.
    I truly hope you get what you wish for. The results will be waaaay different them you expect.

  • toumanbeg

    BS. I don’t know if you intended it but you have claimed that Iran has built nukes. Either that was an error in a foreign language or you need to trot out some evidence.
    Why does Iran want nukes? KSA, UAE and maybe Egypt will just get them too. Even morons have to know that is a bad thing. The USA needs to nuke a Quds training site so everybody knows what we are talking about. Not many of us left that remember Hiroshima.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Go back and read my comment. I stated Iran’s nuclear program. You mistook it to be nuclear weapons program. do you have a problem with English?

  • Je’ Czaja

    History should show us that if there are enough elites who will make money off the deal-its a done deal. Has nothing to do with nuclear weapons and never has been.

  • toumanbeg

    “Iran’s nuclear program succeeded in spite of all of this”
    The purpose of Iran’s nuclear program is to build a nuclear weapon. Period.
    If Iran wanted only peaceful nuclear power they would have accepted any of the gifts offered by several nations. They refused French offers to build a reactor that cannot be used to enrich enough for nuclear weapons. They refused the offer of medical radioactives. Their refusal of unfettered access is to prevent them from being caught cheating. If they were not cheating, they wouldn’t be worried about getting caught.

    No, you are only fooling yourself. The last poll I saw was in ’08 or ’09 and world wide 80% of those polled thought Iran was working on nuclear weapons.

    BTW, Russia built your reactor. Without Russia Iran would still be arguing over where to dig the hole.

    Anyway my point, which Kerry agrees with, is that the deal is with OBAMA, not America. This deal will lead to war. It is inevitable. Remember under the American system of government, they President is restrained to some extent in almost everything he can do. Our system of checks and balances limits POTUS. One notable exception is the use of nuclear weapons. POTUS can launch a nuclear attack whenever he wants. On whoever he wants. He will have to deal with the blowback but that won’t matter to the millions of dead.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    You are the one who first brought up Iran’s nuclear “weapons” program not I.
    I am an American so maybe you are referring to the Soviets giving India the Nuclear weapons technology (not just the nuclear tech). My country of birth is Sri Lanka. That is similar to comparing Germany with Russia. Very very different in every way.
    Operation Paperclip of the US allowed 1 thousand Nazi Scientists including Werner Von Braun to work on the US missile and nuclear tech. Von Braun, a Nazi who allowed thousands of Jews as slaves work and die for him and his V2 rocket program got immunity along with 1 thousand Nazi Scientists from the Nuremberg trials. Save your moralistic sermons. Von Braun went on to be the head of the NASA program and was called the father of rocket tech. If not for that Nazi Scientist the US would not have put a man on the moon.
    Obama has violated the constitution so many time that if the constitution was a woman she would charge him with r*pe.
    Obama has used his executive powers well and beyond the checks and balances of the US.
    When the US used the Nuke on Japan the US gave the world the only excuse to use it and that is to shorten a protracted conventional war. That is the same excuse any nuclear weapons power now uses. the US opened up the Pandora’s box of nuclear weapons and now cannot bring all that has escaped from it. last thing to leave that box was “hope” and we are fast running out of it.
    Russia has openly threatened to use the Nuke and between the US and Russia over 90% of the world’s nukes are in these 2 nations. You want to prevent a nuclear Armageddon? then tell that to Obama and Putin.

  • toumanbeg

    “You want to prevent a nuclear Armageddon.”

    That is a liberal fairy tale I don’t believe in. The Human race does not have enough nuclear weapons to destroy either ourselves or the planet we are on. Part of a scare campaign used by statists to gather power.

    We can destroy civilization. Of course that brings into play “what is civilization?”

    I agree with you about Obama. Which is why I pointed out that he only has 18 months left. The Mad Dog Mullahs don’t really understand how the American system works. Obama won’t be impeached because it would be too devisive. There is a better way.

    Obama was born in Kenya. That means he is not a “natural born” citizen.

    When that is proven in a court of law, It will make EVERYTHING he signed illegal. I cannot sign a contract for General Motors. I do not have that authority. Once proven to be ineligible for POTUS, his signature becomes invalid. That means those bills are no longer law.

    Those bills will have to go through Congress again, then be signed by the next POTUS.

    Yes, Iran did require help from Russia to build it’s nuclear plant;

    America did not need an excuse to nuke Japan. We were at war. There were no treaties in effect prohibiting the use of nukes. The USA is at war with North Korea. It was a truce signed in 1953;
    North Korea has breached the truce (armistice) many times. It would not be illegal for the USA to resume combat today. It would not be illegal for the USA to nuke North Korea.
    The NPT prohibits the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state. North Korea is a nuclear state. The NPT is the only treaty the USA is party to that prohibits the use of Nuclear weapons.
    IMHO, the USA needs to withdraw from the NPT.
    Once out of the NPT America is free to sell nukes to any other non NPT states. Nothing will cool the jets of Pootie faster then Poland, Finland, the Baltic state and Ukraine (what is left of it) having a few nukes. Pootie would not have invaded Ukraine if Ukraine had kept it’s nukes.

    What the NPT does in reality is allow Rouge states such as N. Korea and Iran to build nukes while preventing law abiding states from building them. The NPT was a good idea but nobody envisioned a disaster like the Obumbler getting elected.

  • toumanbeg

    For you. I’m a little older and wiser then that. The rich WILL get richer. For thousands of years the poor have invented ways to prevent the rich from getting richer. None of them worked.
    You can thin them out but they grow back and get richer. So the elites will make their money elsewhere if they don’t get what they want.
    Please note that of the P5+1 involved, at least 4 of them are on the side of Iran.
    That is why once the bombing campaign starts, knocking out the power grid is important. No power means no pumps to move OIL into the ships. No OIL means no exports. No exports means no funds to buy imports. Sounds like sanctions, doesn’t it?
    That is why the MDM’s plan to get sanctions dropped then tell the USA to bugger off , knowing the P4+1 won’t put sanctions back on will not work. Who needs sanctions when the ports are in flames and rail tunnels have been collapsed? No politicians involved for Iran to bribe. Put the Mullahs to work praying for the tunnels to uncollapse.

  • toumanbeg

    The pegion is smarter then Obama.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    US had 2 bombs, some say We could have nuked an island to show what would happen to Japan. When we used it the only valid reason was to end a protracted war. that is the only valid reason now any nation would use, unless they are attacked first by a nuke.
    Obama will not be tried in courts. he spent millions to claim he is a citizen when he could have spent 500 dollars sending copies of his birth certificate to all 50 states.
    One nuclear attack on one major US city would shut the US down. the fall out from that is mass death and a collapse of society.

  • toumanbeg

    We did. Japan is an Island. Bet you didn’t know that.
    No, Truman was a coward and a poor politician. Plus he was not as comfortable with Winne and Stalin as FDR was. Do you realize that projected casualties were 2 million Americans and 20+ million Japanese? On Okinawa most of the civilian population committed suicide. As hard as it is for a westerner to believe, there are societies that prefer death to dishonor.

    The Japanese were training young boys (6 to 8 years old) to fasten a bomb on their back and crawl under American tanks, then set the bomb off. How do you say ‘Wind of death’ in Japanese?
    The IJN was a pretty serious bunch of dudes.
    So tell me, do you think it would have been better to kill 20+million people then killing 150,000? Maybe you just suffer from a phobia about nuclear weapons. If a nuke will save lives, use it. Military math is done by spending lives to save lives. That is why nobody rational wants war.
    The Mullahs want war. They are not rational.
    As General Sherman said; “If war is the solution our enemies desire, give them all they want.

    The way to warn Iran what they are getting into is bomb between midnight and 6 AM, then negotiate between noon and 6 PM. Within a week we will have a treaty that Congrss will aprove and Iran will find out there are things worse then being embarrassed by the Great Satin. You can recover from a loss of ‘face’. Death is forever.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    Let me tell you a little bit about myself
    I come from both worlds: East and West. Sri Lanka is the oldest unbroken Buddhist nation in the world. My Grandfather on my father’s side was a Pali Scholar and a Buddhist. His wife a Catholic. My mother a Tamil, her great Grandmother, a Hindu. My mother an Anglican. I grew up both in that nation and the US.
    Sri Lankan war of 30 years included thousands of child soldiers (boys) and child suicide bombers (girls). Tamil Tigers extensively used the suicide vest, killed 2 leaders of 2 nations (Rajiv Gandhi of India and Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka) never done before in the 20th or 21st century by any terrorist group. they also had an air force, navy and a lethal army where all wore a necklace with a cyanide pill in case of capture.
    I know enough of Japan to say that the Samurai code along with the Shinto/Buddhist culture created a unique culture. Japanese marry according to Shinto and when they die it is according to Buddhist. Zen Buddhism was brought to Japan by Bodhidharma, an Indian Buddhist monk
    It was the samurai code that you are explaining. it is as lethal as that of the Tamil Tigers who waged the longest Asian war (30 years or the length of the war of roses in Europe)
    No matter how you cut it, the only reason you have given is the expediency of using the nuke. tell that to the people of Bikini atoll of island where the French used them to test her thermonuclear devices. It wiped out the ancestral homeland of those Polynesians. they were relocated to island that barely could sustain them as they saw their homeland and history blow up.
    There are now many kinds of WMD. including poison gas. I am sure you would approve the use of mustard gas (which is now banned) or nerve gas if that shortens the war a bit. War is meant to be horrible. that is why we try to avoid it and not make it so convenient that it can be done using WMD’s

  • ross

    dude, I love Sri Lanka, and your ethic and historical context puts you in a brilliant position to view these geopolitical shifts with clarity. Wow, a Pali scholar. The Dhamma runs strong in you! Bohomistuti!

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    So does
    Tamil Hinduism
    Sinhalese Buddhism
    Roman Catholicism
    I also wanted to tell “toumenbeg” that In Hindu India, among the Rajputs, sometimes when defeat faced them the Royal men would take opium to fend off the pain, and ride into the oceans of the Mogul armies. while the royal Hindu women and children would wear their best, singing Hindu hymns and march into a massive pit to commit Jauhar (spelling). Where they would all be burned alive than face the dishonor of being molested and then killed by the Moguls. In Chittor Fortress 36 thousand committed Jauhar, and in another Rajput Fortress 12 to 14 thousand committed this act twice. The scenes in the Trilogy come close to the valor of the Rajputs.

  • toumanbeg

    I know about the foot in two worlds. My dad was a naval aviator who spent most of WW2 in the Aleutian Islands After the PI was cleared his squadron transferred there. Dad was a B/N, not a pilot and he saw that non-pilots were not getting promoted. So he got a TDY with the PI military setting up patrol flights and training. That led him to transfe to the Department of state. He two hatted with State and the just created CIA. So I grew up mostly in Asia and California. Then I joined the US Navy and got to drop bombs on some of the other parts of Asia.
    So I got a face to face course in the differences between Asian culture and American culture while growing up.
    Military calculus is different. The costs are figured in lives, the results are not. Results can be calculated in many other ways. Military action always produces effects that were not calculated at the time. Part of the fog of war. Vietnam was an excellent example of this. The media sucked the Army into using casualties to calculate victory. The reality is that the USA killed about 2 million out of a population of 12 million. The survivors wouldn’t surrender. So the Media claimed we wewre defeated. The Political and military goal in Vietnam was to stop Communism from spreading to Australia. That was accomplished.

    I suspect the slight differences in our back ground produce our disagreement. I also suspect that we would agree on at least 90% of life’s more interesting moments.
    Yes, I see WMD’s as weapons. I run in circles where non-WMD weapons are called “hand tools”. That said, defeating your enemy without resorting to war is always better then war. Losing to your enemy isn’t. I’m firmly into the better dead then red camp.

  • Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha

    I see no argument in your comment. Just to share a story from WW2. My Grandfather bought about 3 blocks of land in downtown Colombo. It was a mini forest in a neighborhood. During the war, a Japanese and British plane had a dog fight right over his house. The bullets rained down on the tiles. It is was one of the family stories we would talk about. Later on I read that both Colombo and the harbor of Trincomalee were attacked by the Japanese.

  • Ivan

    To Toumenbeg,

    The Okinawans were and are not Japanese. They were forced to commit “suicide” by the Japanese military, if not in fact, massacred. The Bombs is a retaliation for Pearl Harbour. Time to stop the bullshit about shortening the War.The opportune time for using them would actually be over Germany