The U.S. is not serious in regards to negotiations with Iran. Negotiations require offers and demands from both sides that can be weighted and exhcanged against each other. But while the U.S. has skyhight demands, which would restrict Iranian sovereignty, it offers nothing substantial.
For the next negotiation round on February 26 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the U.S. has issued a new demand, the complete shut down of Iran’s enrichment plant in its underground facility at Fordow.
Of all places relevant to Iran’s nuclear program, which is as U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed solely for civilian purpose, Fordow would be the most difficult to destroy during an attack on Iran. Why, if not for preparation of such an attack, would the U.S. demand that that place be shut down?
The U.S. has also made a new “offer” to Iran. In exchange for shutting down Fordow and other places the U.S. offers not the lifting of UN sanction, not the lifting of unilateral U.S. or EU sanctions, not the lifting of restriction of financial transactions with Iran. No, none of that. If its new demand would be followed by Iran the U.S. would lift unilateral sanctions it introduced, through threats to third parties, just days ago:
Tighter U.S. sanctions are killing off Turkey’s gold-for-gas trade with Iran and have stopped state-owned lender Halkbank from processing other nations’ energy payments to the OPEC oil producer, bankers said on Friday.
A provision of U.S. sanctions, made law last summer and implemented from February 6, effectively tightens control on sales of precious metals to Iran and prevents Halkbank from processing oil payments by other countries back to Tehran, bankers said.
Turkey, which depends on energy imports from Russia and Iran, has paid Iran in Turkish Lira which Iran used to buy Turkish gold which it could then bring out of the country and exchange for any other currency.
The U.S. is threatening Turkish banks with cutting off their international business if they continue the gold transfer.
“Halkbank can only accept payments for Turkish oil and gas purchases and Iran is only allowed to buy food, medicine and industrial products with that money,” one senior Turkish banker told Reuters.”The gas for gold trade is very difficult after the second round of sanctions. Iranians cannot just withdraw the cash and buy whatever they want. They have to prove what they are buying … so gold exports will definitely fall,” he said.
These new introduced sanction through illegal threats to third parties, are the only ones the U.S. is willing to lift.
These sanctions, where the U.S. dictates through a Turkish bank what Iran can buy or not buy, are a ploy comparable to the deadly “oil for food” scheme that killed so many children in Iraq:
Former programme heads such as Hans von Sponeck questioned whether the sanctions should exist at all. Von Sponeck, speaking in University of California, Berkeley in late 2001, decried the proposed “Smart Sanctions”, stating, “What is proposed at this point in fact amounts to a tightening of the rope around the neck of the average Iraqi citizen”; claimed that the sanctions were causing the death of 150 Iraqi children per day; and accused the US and Britain of arrogance toward Iraq, such as refusing to let it pay its UN and OPEC dues and blocking Iraqi attempts at negotiation.
If Iran would fall for this the U.S. would soon dictated in deep detail what Iran is allowed to buy and what not. Iran should no accept such a game through a Turkish bank.
A whooping 40% of Turkeys energy comes from Iran. It is Turkey’s problem if it finds no reasonable way to pay for that. Sure, the Russians could supply some additional gas should Iran stop deliveries.
But then Turkey would totally depend on Russian good will. As its position with regards to Syria is the opposite of Russia’s position, the strategic risk of depending on a sole energy source is immense.
During the Almaty talks Iran will of course not commit to such an unreasonable exchange:
“Lately they have said ‘Shut down Fordow, stop (uranium) enrichment, we will allow gold transactions’,” [Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry,] said, according to the Mehr news agency. “They want to take away the rights of a nation in exchange for allowing trade in gold.”
“We are ready for negotiations, negotiations that have a logical approach which officially recognizes our rights completely. Of course steps must be concurrent and of equal weight,” he said.
The Obama administration is simply not serious with negotiations. One of its former members, Vali Nasr, who is now dean of the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, has a new book coming where he explicitly says so:
In Iran, Nasr demonstrates Obama’s deep ambivalence about any deal on the nuclear program. “Pressure,” he writes, “has become an end in itself.” The dual track of ever tougher sanctions combined with diplomatic outreach was “not even dual. It relied on one track, and that was pressure.” The reality was that,“Engagement was a cover for a coercive campaign of sabotage, economic pressure and cyberwarfare.”Opportunities to begin real step-by-step diplomacy involving Iran giving up its low-enriched uranium in exchange for progressive sanctions relief were lost. What was Tehran to think when “the sum total of three major rounds of diplomatic negotiation was that America would give some bits and bobs of old aircraft in exchange for Iran’s nuclear program”?
The talks in Almaty are designed to fail. They will fail. It is Obama’s strategy, or rather lack thereof, that there will be no progress at all.
Turkey, which is an U.S. ally, will feel the brunt of the new sanctions the Obama administration introduced. Who will the Turks blame when the lights go out in Ankara?