Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dueling Op-Eds on Iran

As the Iran nuclear talks approach a deadline on July 20, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif have each contributed op-eds on the crisis. Kerry's appeared in The Washington Post; Zarif's in Le Monde. The Iran Primer of the US Institute of Peace has the transcripts as well as a link to Zarif's five minute video message.

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Transcript of video message "We Can Make History"
            In the next three weeks, we have a unique opportunity to make history: To forge a comprehensive agreement over Iran's nuclear energy program; and to end an unnecessary crisis that has distracted us from addressing together our common challenges, such as the horrifying events of past few weeks in Iraq.
            We could have resolved the nuclear issue in 2005. But then, people didn't believe me when I said that Iranians are allergic to pressure.
            The Bush administration torpedoed the deal by demanding that we abandon enrichment, altogether. They then opted for pressure and sanctions. For 8 years.
            The sanctions were crippling -- even deadly; literally.
            Iranian cancer patients could not buy medicine with their own money, because banks around the world had been bullied by the US Treasury to avoid transferring Iranian funds.
            But sanctions did not cripple our nuclear program.
            Neither did the murder of our nuclear scientists, the sabotage of our nuclear facilities - with potentially disastrous environmental ramifications - or the repeated military threats.
In fact, they achieved exactly the opposite:
            Insisting on no enrichment resulted in a 100-fold increase in our centrifuges: from less than 200 to almost 20,000;
            Refusing to sell fuel for our American-built research reactor, forced us to produce our own fuel by increasing enrichment levels: from 3.5% to 20%.
            Depriving Iranian cancer patients from medical radio-isotopes, compelled us to build a heavy water reactor, going from an idea then to a full-fledged plant, to be commissioned soon; and
            Threats to bomb our nuclear facilities out of existence, obliged us to build Fordow, which is protected by our mountains.
            Western governments cried foul, ignoring that they had brought this upon themselves.
            As we approach July 20th, I feel compelled to warn again that pursuing a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last minute concessions cannot achieve anything better than what it achieved in 2005.
            To those who continue to believe that sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, I can only say that pressure has been tried for the past 8 years, in fact for the past 35 years.
            It didn't bring the Iranian people to kneel in submission. And it will not now nor in the future. We still have time to exit this spiral of escalation.Try mutual respect. It works. We are trying to reach a deal. Not a good deal or a bad deal, but a doable and lasting deal. And any deal, by definition, is the outcome of mutual understanding—not imposition by one side or the other.
            We are willing to take concrete measures to guarantee that our nuclear program will always remain peaceful.
            We still have time to put an end to the myth that Iran is seeking to build a bomb. And we're backed by over 250 years of non-aggression to substantiate our assertion.
            My government remains committed to ending this unnecessary crisis by July 20th. I hope my counterparts are, too.
Excerpts from Foreign Miniser Zarif’s Op-ed in Le Monde
            Today we have got a unique opportunity for talks with the P5+1. But it is to regret that there are still some on the opposite side who would not stop dreaming.
            There is this political will to reach a comprehensive, long-term solution that is respected by both sides. But the negotiations can only become successful when the entire parties dedicate themselves to finding acceptable procedures which would be in agreement with the interim deal, that is, to guarantee that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful as well as to remove the entire Security Council sanctions and the multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.
            We are willing to guarantee that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. But we will not compromise our technical advancement or our scientists.
            No one can go back in time. There has been sacrifice made. Today abilities have changed greatly than the past. There is know-how and expertise come by none of which could be forgotten. Pressure and sanctions have also proved ineffective.
            I appeal for these illusions not to derail a process that could put an end to a pointless crisis.
(Translation via the Young Journalists Club and AFP)
Excerpts from Secretary of State Kerry’s Op-ed in The Washington Post
            All along, these negotiations have been about a choice for Iran’s leaders. They can agree to the steps necessary to assure the world that their country’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and not be used to build a weapon, or they can squander a historic opportunity to end Iran’s economic and diplomatic isolation and improve the lives of their people.
            Diplomacy and leadership are marked by tough calls. This shouldn’t be one of them.
            Iranian officials have stated repeatedly and unambiguously that they have no intention of building a nuclear weapon and that their nuclear activities are designed solely to fulfill civilian needs. Assuming that’s true, it’s not a hard proposition to prove.
            The United States and our partners have demonstrated to Iran how serious we are. During the negotiations to reach the Joint Plan of Action, we extended our hand to the Iranians and met with them directly to understand what Iran wanted from its nuclear program. Along with our international partners, we helped chart a path that would allow Iran to have a domestic program for exclusively peaceful purposes. We proved that we were flexible in offering financial relief.
            Throughout these talks, Iran’s negotiators have been serious. Iran has also defied the expectations of some by meeting its obligations under the Joint Plan of Action, which has allowed time and space for the comprehensive negotiations to proceed. Specifically, Iran has been eliminating its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium, limited its enrichment capability by not installing or starting up additional centrifuges, refrained from making further advances at its enrichment facilities and heavy-water reactor, and allowed new and more frequent inspections. In exchange, the European Union and the P5+1 have provided limited financial relief to Iran, even as the architecture of international sanctions and the vast majority of sanctions themselves remained firmly in place.
            Now Iran must choose. During the comprehensive negotiations, the world has sought nothing more than for Iran to back up its words with concrete and verifiable actions. We have, over the past several months, proposed a series of reasonable, verifiable and easily achievable measures that would ensure Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon and that its program is limited to peaceful purposes. In return, Iran would be granted phased relief from nuclear-related sanctions.
            What will Iran choose? Despite many months of discussion, we don’t know yet. We do know that substantial gaps still exist between what Iran’s negotiators say they are willing to do and what they must do to achieve a comprehensive agreement. We also know that their public optimism about the potential outcome of these negotiations has not been matched, to date, by the positions they have articulated behind closed doors.
            These gaps aren’t caused by excessive demands on our part. On the contrary, the E.U. and P5+1 negotiators have listened closely to Iran’s questions and concerns and showed flexibility to the extent possible consistent with our fundamental goals for this negotiation. We have worked closely with Iran to design a pathway for a program that meets all of the requirements for peaceful, civilian purposes.
            There remains a discrepancy, however, between Iran’s professed intent with respect to its nuclear program and the actual content of that program to date. The divide between what Iran says and what it has done underscores why these negotiations are necessary and why the international community united to impose sanctions in the first place.
            Iran’s claim that the world should simply trust its words ignores the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported since 2002 on dozens of violations by Iran of its international nonproliferation obligations, starting in the early 1980s. The U.N. Security Council responded by adopting four resolutions under Chapter VII, requiring Iran to take steps to address these violations. These issues cannot be dismissed; they must be addressed by the Iranians if a comprehensive solution is to be reached. These are not just the expectations of any one country, but of the community of nations.
            To gain relief from sanctions, the world is simply asking Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear activities are what it claims them to be.
            If Iran is able to make these choices, there will be positive outcomes for the Iranian people and for their economy. Iran will be able to use its significant scientific know-how for international civil nuclear cooperation. Businesses could return to Iran, bringing much needed investment, jobs and many additional goods and services. Iran could have greater access to the international financial system. The result would be an Iranian economy that begins to grow at a significant and sustainable pace, boosting the standard of living among the Iranian population. If Iran is not ready to do so, international sanctions will tighten and Iran’s isolation will deepen.
Click here for the full text.
British Foreign Secretary Hague's July 2 statement
            “This is a crucial moment in international efforts to resolve one of the most challenging foreign policy issues of our day. The UK is fully committed to reaching an agreement which ensures Iran’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful. To achieve this, Iran will need to be realistic about the steps required to resolve the international community’s serious concerns about its nuclear programme. We will not accept a deal at any price. A deal that does not provide sufficient assurances that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon is not in the interests of the UK, the region or the international community.
            “Achieving an agreement is far from certain. Significant differences remain between the E3+3 and Iran which are yet to be bridged. But I am convinced that the current negotiations are the best opportunity we have had in years to resolve this issue. Over the next three weeks, an intensive effort will be required by all sides. We will continue to work closely with our E3+3 partners to test to the full the scope for achieving the deal the international community requires. The benefits of a comprehensive deal for Iran are clear: if Iran is willing to take the steps needed, significant economic benefits will follow. Ultimately, this would lead to the lifting of all nuclear related sanctions and Iran being treated like any other non-nuclear weapons state.”

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