The final countdown is close at hand with the Tuesday June 30th self-imposed deadline, in which a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran is to be reached.
The June 30th deadline could be extended if negotiators indicate that a comprehensive deal is within reach. This also happened after the March deadline in the last round of talks, which resulted in a basic frame work agreement in April but no until after intensive negotiations.
Throughout the negotiation’s Iran wants the end to the crippling sanctions, as its economy is in a disastrous state, which precipitates Iran agreeing to negotiate in the first place.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reported that Iran’s primary objective in the nuclear talks, as inferred from its actions and negotiating positions, is twofold: first, to free itself from sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and military threat, and second, maintaining the capabilities necessary to develop a nuclear weapon in the future should it choose to do so. These are not Iran’s only objectives, to be sure; they fit within a larger strategy that aims to secure the regime, project Iranian power, and enhance Iranian prestige. Iran’s views are not monolithic; for example, significant disagreement exists among Iranian officials regarding the extent to which the country should open its economy to foreign trade and investment. Yet relief from pressure and preservation of a nuclear weapons option appear to be guiding Iran at the negotiating table.
The United States goal at the beginning of the negotiations was to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons capability. In the same report The Washington Institute for Near East Policy reported that under Presidents Bush and Obama, U.S. officials envisaged Iran suspending its uranium enrichment entirely and dismantling much of its nuclear infrastructure, as have other countries that gave up their nuclear weapons programs.
Now the United States has changed its position which allows Iran to have a nuclear weapons capability, but to prevent it from building a nuclear weapon.
The three remaining sticking points of any nuclear agreement with Iran are first, inspection of all military and nuclear sites without advanced warning; second, having the ability of inspectors to interview all Iranian nuclear scientists; and third, to review all past work.
The ability to have access to all Iranian scientist and review past work is essential to understanding where they were in past nuclear program work, as this would give inspectors a starting point to begin inspections.
Finally, limiting Iran’s enrichment capabilities of centrifuges to 6,500, instead of the 18,000 Tehran currently has. Iran has claimed from the beginning that these are used for scientific, medical, and energy purposes, but uranium can also be converted and enriched into material for a nuclear device.
It will be interesting to see how this proceeds as just last month Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated, “The impudent and brazen enemy expects that we allow them talk to our scientists and researchers about a fundamental local achievement, but no such permission will be allowed,” Khamenei told military commanders in Tehran Wednesday, in remarks broadcast on state TV, “No inspection of any military site or interview with nuclear scientists will be allowed.”
Continuing he said, “I will not allow foreigners to interview — which is tantamount to interrogation — the prominent beloved scientists and sons of this nation,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry originally made this demand, and just recently recanted reversed himself on this issue.
Politico reported last week that Kerry suggest that the U.S. would not demand a full accounting from Iran of all its military nuclear research before concluding a nuclear deal with Tehran that lifts economic sanctions. International inspectors have identified 11 areas of concern that Iran has failed to clarify, many of them based on Western intelligence — reportedly including a laptop smuggled from Iran with files that detail the bomb-making research. Iran insists it has never pursued a nuclear bomb.
Speaking to reporters on June 16, Kerry said the U.S. is “not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. What we’re concerned about,” he added, “is going forward.”
This statement sent many who are opposed to the deal to suggest that the administration is conceding too much to Tehran and doing everything, just to get a deal cementing the legacy of President Obama in foreign policy.
Opposition to the nuclear deal with Tehran has bi-partisan support in the way President Obama has dealt with the Iranian nuclear negotiations. Both Democrats and Republican feel the president is conceding far too much, especially with continued cheating by the Iranians, and it’s continued fermenting of turmoil through the Middle East. As many believe it does nothing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and only emboldens Tehran military adventurism throughout the Middle East region.
For our allies, they feel President Obama is virtually throwing them under the bus to get any agreement with Iran. The allies believe this will be disastrous for their national security, as Tehran retains everything and gives them an economic boost to their struggling economy, enabling them to continue spreading its influence throughout the Middle East region.
Only time will tell how this will play out.