For the last two days, negotiators from the P5+1 nations and Iran have met in Almaty, Kazakhstan to attempt to end an impasse over Iran’s nuclear program. An earlier set of meeting in February had raised hopes among some observers that real progress had been made, and that an agreement at least on interim measures could be reached. As talks conclude today, though, one participant in the talks says that Iran actually ended up raising more questions than its answers addressed, and the gap has widened:
Six world powers and Iran met for a second day on Saturday with scant hope of striking a breakthrough deal to ease concern that Tehran may be trying to develop nuclear weaponscapability, a dispute that could escalate into a new Middle East war.
Negotiators failed to narrow their differences when the two-day meeting began on Friday, which followed a round of talks in February, also in Kazakhstan’s commercial hub, Almaty.
The final day of negotiations was unlikely to achieve more than a willingness to keep talking. Iran responded on Friday to an offer of limited relief from sanctions with a proposal of its own that puzzled Western diplomats and which Russia said raised more questions than answers.
Reuters notes that the upcoming presidential elections in Iran made the prospects of an agreement dim in the first place. If the mullahs who run Iran (and run the elections) wanted an agreement, though, this would have been of little consequence. The outcome of the election is in their hands, just as it was four years ago when they rigged the nominations and then the voting outcome to retain Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the position.
Instead, as has been the case through an almost interminable number of these conferences, Iran has once again head-faked the P5+1 and gained itself more time for developing nuclear weapons. Even with that realization, Russia still claims that Iran is “serious” about negotiations:
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said: “Iran has given an answer to the proposals of the six powers. It is the kind of answer that creates more questions … But this shows that the negotiations are serious.”
Russia seems to be in the minority on that view:
“It seems that instead of narrowing, the gap between the sides (has) actually widened,” said Ali Vaez, an Iran expert with the International Crisis Group.
This fits the pattern we’ve seen for a decade. Iran leads the EU, Russia, and China to believe that they’re ready to fit their program back within the supervision and limits of the IAEA — perhaps as soon as the next round of negotiations, a few months off. The next time, Iran changes its demands, forcing the negotiators to refuse — at which point Iran blames the P5+1 and refuses to negotiate again for a few months. It’s all a ploy to gain enough time to manufature a nuclear weapon, at which point the world will have to deal with Iran on Tehran’s terms, or so the mullahs hope.
The gap isn’t widening or narrowing. Iran wants nuclear weapons, and is playing the game perfectly to keep the West paralyzed for as long as it takes to get one.