The Post reports that there is much happy talk after the Sunday negotiating session between Iran and the P5-plus-1 (U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany): “The day-long talks at an Istanbul conference center did not yield an agreement on specific curbs to Iran’s nuclear program, but U.S. and European officials described the negotiations as ‘constructive and useful’ and said a second round had been set for May 23 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.”
Now if that is not a recipe for trouble — delay and weakened international pressure on Iran — I don’t know what is. As the report notes, onlookers are wary:
While diplomats welcomed the chance for continued dialogue with Iran, the prospect of extended negotiations carries political risks for the White House. Israeli and Arab leaders have warned that Iran may use them as a stalling tactic or a means to divide public opinion. Fruitless negotiations could also leave President Obama vulnerable to attacks from Republican opponents who have sought to portray the administration as soft on Iran.
The administration has insisted that there is still time for a diplomatic settlement, warning that a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities could trigger a regional war. But current and former U.S. officials acknowledged that pressure from hard-liners on both sides could undercut efforts to reach a compromise.
“Hardliners” on both sides? Like those on the side that insist Iran live up to its international obligations, allow inspectors in and cease uranium enrichment?
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu hit the nail on the head when he said, “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie. It’s got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation.” He continued, “I think Iran should take immediate steps. First, stop all enrichment, take out all the enriched material and dismantle the nuclear facility in Qom. I believe that the world’s greatest practitioner of terrorism must not have the opportunity to develop atomic bombs.”
But Iran has something else in mind. The Jerusalem Post reports today:
Iran is ready to resolve all nuclear issues in the next round of talks with world powers if the West starts lifting sanctions, its foreign minister said on Monday.
In an interview with the Iranian student news agency ISNA, Ali Akbar Salehi also hinted that Iran could make concessions on its higher-grade uranium enrichment, a key concern of Western powers. . . .
“Enrichment is Iran’s right but we can negotiate on how we obtain uranium with different enrichment levels,” he said.
“Making 20 percent (enriched nuclear) fuel is our right as long as it provides for our reactor needs and there is no question about that,” he said, but added: “If they guarantee that they will provide us with the different levels of enriched fuel that we need, then that would be another issue.”
Can’t you just feel how close a deal is? Actually, Netanyahu and every clear-eyed person in the West should be concerned that Obama will give up plenty more, declaring a great diplomatic victory but in essence leaving Iran fully capable of continuing down the road to nuclear weaponization. The only thing worse than not reaching a deal would be reaching a Six-party-talks kind of farcical paper arrangement which is unverifiable and incapable of actually ending the Iranian nuclear threat.
In the meantime, the centrifuges keep spinning. All the happy talk in the world won’t conceal that disagreeable reality.