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May 9, 2008

Can P5+1 Offer Break the Nuclear Stalemate?

There is little doubt that Tehran will reject the secret P5+1 nuclear offer since it crosses Iran’s red line — suspension of enrichment. The proposal is scheduled Though reinvigorating diplomacy is much needed, the question is why the Security Council powers would make an offer that few believe will break the stalemate at this point – that is, at a time when tensions Iran and the US over Iraq is quickly escalating?

In the piece below, published by Inter Press Services today, I discuss why Tehran is so inflexible on the issue of suspension based on its previous negotiating experience with the EU and why Washington’s insistence on this precondition is leading to a situation in which “the perfect is becoming the enemy of the good.”

Tehran sees two key problems with the suspension precondition. First, Iran has taken away from earlier negotiations with the EU that suspension becomes a trap unless the West at the outset commits to solutions that recognise Iran’s right to enrichment, i.e. that won’t cause the suspension to become permanent.
Iran entered talks with Europe in 2003 under the impression that the parties would identify “objective criteria” that would enable Tehran to exercise its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while providing the international community with guarantees that the Iranian nuclear programme would remain strictly civilian. During the course of the talks, however, Europe shifted its position. The only acceptable criteria would be for Iran not to engage in uranium enrichment in the first place, the EU began to argue.
Consequently, Tehran felt trapped since the objective had shifted from seeking a peaceful Iranian enrichment programme to seeking the elimination of Iran’s enrichment capabilities.”

The full piece can be found here: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42307

/trita

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