Diplomats: Iran has "very far-reaching demands" in nuclear talks, parties "far apart"



The conclusion of recent talks in Vienna has left Iran and the P5+1 global powers remain far apart on both the uranium- and plutonium-based aspects of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Interfax on Thursday conveyed statements form Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov describing the Iranians as having "very far-reaching demands" regarding uranium enrichment, and noting that their stance on the issue was "far apart" from that of the international community. Reuters had reported on Wednesday wide gaps also remained regarding the disposition of Iran's plutonium-producing Arak reactor, with a U.S. official emphasizing to the wire that Washington had "long said that we believe that Arak should not be a heavy water reactor as it is" Iranian negotiators had reportedly doubling down on their oft-repeated position that they will not make concessions in that context, and former Obama administration non-proliferation point man Gary Samore elaborated that they envisioned a deal requiring only "fairly cosmetic changes that would allow them... to produce more plutonium." The parties are set to have concluded a final agreement by July 20, though observers have long feared that Tehran will seek to drag out negotiations as long as possible. The current interim deal permits Iran unlimited uranium enrichment to five percent purity - considered the most difficult step in the enrichment cycle - while Western sanctions concessions have begun to stabilize the Iranian economy. Indefinite talks would provide the Iranians with functional immunity from harsh Western actions while allowing them to bolster their stockpile of enriched material and continue recovering financially.


Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) government on Thursday blocked access to Twitter, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to "eradicate" the microblogging service and bragged about having obtained a court order enabling him to do so. Erdogan - who until recently had been hailed by some U.S. foreign policy analysts as a model for modern democratic Islamism - elaborated that he "[doesn't] care what the international community says" and that "everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic." Analysts were quick to link the AKP's moves to an ongoing corruption scandal that has plunged Turkey into open political warfare and ensnared top elites from the party, including Erdogan and members of his family. The AKP had just a day earlier blocked opposition efforts to unveil formal graft charges at a Parliamentary session. Ilhan Tanir, the Washington correspondent for Turkey's Vatan outlet, was unapologetically acerbic regarding the Thursday moves against Twitter, suggesting that "Erdogan surely wants to change the agenda from corruption to something else... [a]pparently 'rooting out twitter' came to mind first?" Tanir also noted that "about 15 million people in Turkey" use Twitter and that the ban indicated that Erodgan was being "torture[d]" by leaked tapes seemingly documenting illegality.


The Associated Press on Wednesday conveyed threats from top Palestinian official Nabil Shaath to suspend peace talks with Israel, and to "immediately" resume diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state, should Jerusalem decline to go through with a mass release of jailed Palestinian murderers scheduled for March 29. Israel has already conducted three such releases in order to keep Palestinian diplomats at the table for U.S.-backed negotiations, but domestic opinion regarding the gestures has steadily soured in the wake of jubilant public celebrations for freed terrorists, including rallies attended by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Recent signals by Palestinian negotiators hinting that they are ready to pocket the concessions and walk away from talks have generated even more opposition, including inside the Israeli government. Fatah advisor Tayeb Abdel Rahim had revealed [Arabic] last February that Abbas had sent a letter to President Obama reiterating his opposition to U.S. calls for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Rahim also outlined Palestinians readiness to wage diplomatic warfare against Israel in 63 different international institutions. President Obama subsequently gave an interview to Bloomberg admonishing Netanyahu and issuing what interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg described as a "veiled threat" against the Israelis, before holding a meeting with Abbas that analysts described as friendlier in both tone and substance. The collapse of U.S.-backed peace talks and the resumption of Palestinian hostility against Israel will likely bolster the case of administration critics who have expressed skepticism toward such approaches.


Veteran Israeli national security correspondent Yaakov Lappin this week conveyed what he described as "recent Israeli intelligence assessments" concluding that Hamas is steadily moving to reinvigorate its strained relationship with Iran, amid broader signals that the Palestinian terror group is desperate to halt what has become its worst economic crisis in roughly a decade. Speculation that rapprochement was in the offing between the Palestinian faction and its former Shiite sponsors has been building for months, beginning with tepid declarations in December, through stronger boasts in January, through quiet confidence in February. Egypt's moves to economically isolate Hamas - which it treats as an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and which it blames for facilitating jihadism in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai Peninsula - were already long ago described by the organization's officials as a "death sentence." This week Hamas leaders went further, declaring that Cairo's blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip constituted a "crime against humanity." Egypt has also deepened its efforts to diplomatically isolate Hamas, and this week even refused to renew the residency visa of top Hamas figure Moussa Abu Marzouq. 



Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.