IAEA and Iran fail to reach a deal ahead of political talks in Moscow, Where U.S. May “Go Big”
The United Nations nuclear watchdog has been working to broker an action plan to provide access to restricted sites, namely the Parchin facility, where there are suspicions Iran conducted conventional high-explosive tests ten years ago that may have had nuclear applications. After an inconclusive eight hour meeting today, no agreement was set and there is no date set for future talks. These results have cast a shadow on prospects for the P5+1 talks in Moscow later this month. (CNBC, 6/8/12) There was skepticism an agreement could be struck at the technical level with the IAEA before political talks in Moscow scheduled for June 18 between the P5+1 and Iran. (NYT, 6/8/12)
A recent leak of letters between the P5+1 AND Iran ahead of talks in Moscow suggests continued differences and a common reluctance to compromise. One letter shows an Iranian interest in assembling a meeting of experts ahead of the talks to solidify an agenda, to which EU leaders responded no further preliminary talks were necessary, because their goals for the talks hadn’t changed. (Washington Post, 6/8/12)
Meanwhile, is a growing number of experts suggest an incremental deal with Iran would not be successful, instead suggesting a “Go big” strategy is the only real option. Israeli fears and lack of confidence are contributing to the potential instability that an temporary solution would not encourage a reconvening nations anytime soon. (Al-Monitor, 6/7/12)
– Consequences of an Israeli strike: Colin Kahl, the former top Middle East policymaker at the Pentagon, and his colleagues summarize their recent CNAS report in Foreign Policy, “Red Red Lines“:
Given the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the option of using force should remain on the table. But the high risks and uncertain rewards mean it should be employed only if: (1) all nonmilitary options have been exhausted; (2) Iran has made a clear move toward weaponization; (3) there is a reasonable expectation that a strike would significantly set back Iran’s program; and (4) a sufficiently large international coalition is available first to help manage the destabilizing consequences of the strike and then to contain Iran and hinder it from rebuilding its nuclear program.
Today, a unilateral Israeli strike would not satisfy any of these criteria.
Nicholas Burns, a former senior official at the US State Department, offered the Forum an eloquent riposte.
What was needed, he said, was protracted engagement with Tehran. Mr Burns, who handled Iran policy for the Bush administration, is no dove. He made the simple but supremely wise point that, before going to war, nations should at least know their enemy. Thus far the US had not properly tried diplomacy. Sure there had been desultory contacts over the years, usually in places such as Vienna or Geneva. But the US “has not had a single, sustained conversation with the Iranian leadership since the Jimmy Carter’s Administration.”
Mr Burns’s conclusion? The US should put serious time and effort into negotiation. If it did eventually come to war, Washington should at very least be able to say, hand on heart, that it had explored all the alternatives. “The fact that we might go to war with a country that we do not know, we don’t understand its leadership, we have no idea what their bottom line might be – if a deal is even possible – is very disturbing.”
Read the full article in the Financial Times.
Iran Sanctions Watch: India Cuts Oil, Pakistan May Barter, Oil Execs Say Market Coping
Among Iran’s largest trading partners, India has drastically cut imports of oil from Iran, based on increased multilateral sanctions which punich countries who import Iranian oil. Reuters reports, “Falling imports from the OPEC member have pushed Iran to fifth position in the list of India’s crude suppliers in April-May, compared with the third position it enjoyed a year ago and second in the first quarter of 2012.” (Tehran Bureau, 6/8/12)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has explained that Iran is prepared to barter its gas and electricity for Pakistani goods, demonstrating hardship in the Islamic Republic as a result of increased sanctions. Also at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Ahmadinejad preached of increased regional cooperation in Central Asia in the future, specifically suggesting that relations between Tehran-Islamabad were “friendly and brotherly” regardless of sanctions. (Pakistan News Service, 6/8/12)
Reports from oil officials and executives, including heads of Total and Royal Dutch Shell, insist the global oil market is well supplied despite sanctions on Iranian oil as resulting from falling Iranian production. Increases in crude supplies and falling prices have “cushioned” the effect. (Reuters, 6/8/12)