WASHINGTON – By now, as we approach a critical July 20 deadline, it is obvious that the Vienna talks between Iran, America, Europe, Russia and China will go nowhere, for the very simple reason that Iran has no intention to give up its ability to produce weapons grade material.
Iran wants nuclear weapons
If you combine this aspiration with an active Iranian ballistic missiles program, it should be clear to Washington and to everybody else that Iran intends to become a nuclear weapons country and use the military edge that the status implies for political purposes. The only element still in play is how long it will take.
Window dressing negotiations
These Vienna negotiations, now about to hit the July 20 deadline, were and are just window dressing. It is quite possible that Tehran agreed to them in the hope that Washington would sign a bad deal that would leave the door open for further uranium enrichment advances.
In other words, for Iran a good deal would be a Vienna agreement that would allow the regime to be in a pre-nuclear state –with everybody’s blessings. In return for this “concession” Tehran would get the end of the economic sanctions regime.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Iran agrees to freeze its program just a step away from gaining nuclear weapons, while everybody knows that it would take only a small additional effort to produce them.
If the Americans are really fools, then they would take this deal, rationalizing this capitulation by arguing that “at least this way we delay the Iranian nuclear program, and this is better than no deal”.
I have no idea what Secretary of State John Kerry will recommend in the end. Of course, it is always possible to extend the negotiations beyond the July 20 deadline, hoping in some miracle down the line.
No changes in Iran’s foreign policy
But, in my mind, the facts are clear. Tehran never negotiated in good faith. More broadly, beyond the critical nuclear issue, Tehran provided no indication that it has renounced or that it is about to renounce its anti-Western, anti-Israel disruptive foreign policies.
Iran is still actively supporting President Assad in Syria. It is still supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon. Last but not least, Iran is providing advanced rockets to Hamas in Gaza so that they can be launched against Israel.
In other words, Iran remains a rogue state. And the last thing America should want is a rogue state, run by religious zealots, right in the middle of the most important oil-producing region in the world, armed with nuclear weapons.
Iran does not negotiate in good faith
The Vienna negotiations would make sense only if this worrisome background did not exist, if Iran were indeed a “normal” country.
Lacking this reassurance, are we really so stupid to buy the official Iranian position that all the country is doing is to try to develop nuclear power for purely civilian purposes?
We all know that, had this been the case, years ago Iran would have opened up all its nuclear facilities. It would have welcomed all international International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, inspectors. It would have been forthcoming in providing all data, documents and records. But no. The Iranian nuclear program is secretive. The facilities are placed underground. And so on, and so forth.
I have no idea as what can be done to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. May be it is too late. Can we go back to a harsh sanctions regime? Would this do it? And would the world be united in this? Probably not.
Still, be that as it may, the Vienna talks are not going to produce anything genuine that will stand the test of time.