The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid an official visit to Washington on July 13-14 to discuss important issues of interest with his American counterpart, Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama. The United States’ missile shield plan was the most important topic of discussion on which the two sides failed to reach an agreement. Therefore, Washington refrained from setting a clear date for Obama’s forthcoming visit to Moscow, which was first supposed to take place in fall. As for NATO’s operations in Libya and US policy toward Syrian developments, the two sides just announced their views without achieving a clear agreement. The most important highlight of the visit from Iran’s viewpoint, however, was Russia’s proposed initiative which seeks a step by step solution to Iran’s nuclear issue. The following points should be taken into account with regard to Russia’s initiative.
1. Russia’s “step by step” solution to Iran’s nuclear case has been brought up at a time that Moscow and the United States are discordant on a number of issues, including the proposed missile shield, NATO’s military operations in Libya and US approach to Syria.
2. Russia seems to believe that the “Gordian knot” of the nuclear case should be cut by the United States because Washington is the main party which in cahoots with Israel, has lengthened investigation into this case since 2002 and has linked it to other issues which have nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program. This is, apparently, why Russians have first discussed the initiative with the United States to know about Washington’s views. If Washington gave the go-ahead to the initiative, other members of 5+1, including France, China and UK are sure to follow suit.
3. To provide better conditions for the implementation of the plan, it should have been concurrently submitted to the Iranian officials to give Tehran more time to mull all its aspects.
4. This is, perhaps, a Russian method which before knowing about Iran’s opinion, they have decided to know first about the United States positive or negative response. If the United States would oppose the plan, the initiative would be rendered null and void and there would be no need to offer it to other parties.
5. Under current circumstances, Iran should not take a “headstrong” approach to Russia’s initiative because it is proof to Russia’s goodwill for ending the current stalemate in the nuclear case.
6. Careful analysis of the initiative needs more information about details to make way for more accurate judgment about the extent to which it may help Iran’s nuclear case. Therefore, the Russian initiative should not be turned down “hurriedly,” nor it should be judged at a glance.
7. Details which have been revealed thus far are neither good, nor “bad.” On the basis of Russia’s plan, Iran will answer questions posed by 5+1 in a number of phases. In proportion to convincing answers, incentives will be offered to Tehran, including reduction or removal of some sanctions.
8. If the initiative is to be successful, it should pay due attention to the following fact:
a. Iran has many questions to ask from the opposite party because the Western side is not the only one with questions. Therefore, the Russian initiative should make it clear that Iran is not solely a respondent, but also has its own questions to ask.
b. Will Iran’s nuclear case be returned to International Atomic Energy Agency and back to the normal course when Iran answers questions? Or the past vicious circle will continue? For example, the previous modality contained six questions to which Iran gave answers, but IAEA announced that the answers were not adequate and came up with new questions to which Western countries required new answers. Therefore, it should be first made clear if Iran answered questions, what guarantee is there that more questions will not be put forth. Analysts who have followed the nuclear case since 2002 confirm that the nuclear case is just based on allegations and the corpus of questions asked thus far shows that the nuclear case is only a means of putting pressure on Iran to get it attuned to Western policies.
On the other hand, Iran’s nuclear activities have not been, and are not, a threat to international peace and security to require involvement of the United Nations Security Council. It also does not need to be considered under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations as that Chapter should be applied to cases which pose direct threat to international peace and security. The question, now, is which measures by Iran have posed such a threat to international peace and security?
c. Russia should make it clear that what kind of questions Iran should answer and on what matters. It should be made clear whether Iran is supposed to answer factual questions or just any question which is based on charges leveled against the country by the Israeli officials.
d. A time limit should be specified for questions and answers. That is, all sides should know what time limit will be set for final resolution of the existing problems.
e. In case of dispute about whether Iran’s answers are convincing or not, there should be an authority to settle the dispute. That is, which authority is to judge between the two parties if, for any reasons, they failed to reach an agreement on the answers? All relevant instruments should be reviewed by both sides. For example, without asking for any evidence for the United States’ allegations after Iran answered the first set of questions, International Atomic Energy Agency simply posed new questions. The party alleging violation, however, is the one which should provide proof to the violation and then expect accurate answers. Nobody can give convincing answers to questions that are based on conjecture and guesswork.
9. By offering the initiative, the Russians have going to prove that they are not willing to continue their double standards on the nuclear case of Iran. Thus, they want to both appear innovative and prove to the world that they are not totally subservient to the US policies. The details of this initiative should, however, be first explained. It should be known whether the initiative is a solution acceptable to both sides, or just another effort to find new excuses for putting more pressure on Iran.
10. Iran aims to make its nuclear activities transparent according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Safeguards Agreement. Russians know this and are fully aware that Iran will by no means stop enriching uranium according to internationally recognized regulations.
11. It seems that the Russian plan indirectly admits to Iran’s right to continue with uranium enrichment. It only requires Iran to answer some questions. Therefore, the initiative should be taken positively as an effort by Moscow to cut the “Gordian knot” of Iran’s nuclear case.
12. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cunningly avoided of hasty rejection of the plan because of potential negative consequences of that rejection for the United States. She has adjourned a decision on the plan until American experts have discussed its various aspects with Russians. Iran, on the other side, should welcome any initiative which may provide a potential solution to the nuclear case, thus, proving that it adheres to dialogue, negotiation and interaction with international system.
About Iran Review: Iran Review (www.iranreview.org) is the leading independent, non-governmental and non-partisan website - organization representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran's political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.
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