US and Iran: no deal 1

Economic sanctions will be lifted from Iran, and Iran can continue to develop its nuclear program.

Iran gets everything it wants.

The US gets nothing.

That is the true upshot of the long and ultimately useless talks in Lausanne, Switzerland – contrary to Obama’s claims.

And furthermore, the EU has signed a joint statement with Iran that splits Europe from the US.

Although there is no more reason to trust the Iranians than to trust Obama, the very fact that they deny what Obama asserts is enough to prove that there has been no agreement, let alone a deal.

We learn the Iranian view from Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon:

Just hours after the announcement of what the United States characterized as a historic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, the country’s leading negotiator lashed out at the Obama administration for lying about the details of a tentative framework.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress in a fact sheet it released following the culmination of negotiations with the Islamic Republic.

Zarif bragged in an earlier press conference with reporters that the United States had tentatively agreed to let it continue the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, as well as key nuclear research.

Zarif additionally said Iran would have all nuclear-related sanctions lifted once a final deal is signed and that the country would not be forced to shut down any of its currently operating nuclear installations.

Following a subsequent press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry — and release of a administration fact sheet on Iranian concessions — Zarif lashed out on Twitter over what he dubbed lies.

“The solutions are good for all, as they stand,” he tweeted. “There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.”

Zarif went on to push back against claims by Kerry that the sanctions relief would be implemented in a phased fashion — and only after Iran verifies that it is not conducting any work on the nuclear weapons front.

Zarif, echoing previous comments, said the United States has promised an immediate termination of sanctions.

“Iran/5+1 Statement: ‘US will cease the application of ALL nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions.’ Is this gradual?” he wrote on Twitter. …

On Thursday evening, Zarif told reporters the latest agreement allows Iran to keep operating its nuclear program. … “We will continue enriching; we will continue research and development.”

Here is our condensed version of J.E.Dyer’s excellent account of the outcome of the Geneva talks, to be found in full at Liberty Unyielding:

Iran has come out promptly to accuse the U.S. of lying about the deal.  Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, describes the US State Department “fact sheet” on the “deal” as “spin”.

The truth is Iran didn’t actually agree to what the State Department has put out today. Nothing has been jointly signed or published by the US and Iran.

Only one document has Iran’s explicit concurrence, and that is a joint statement with the EU.  Iran managed to pen a joint statement with the EU that is vague and ultimately unenforceable – the only kind of statement Iran would agree to.  It has the sanctions being lifted “simultaneously” with implementation of the as-yet-undefined compliance measures by Iran, to be worked out by June.

But the State Department says the sanctions are to be lifted “after” compliance, and it has an important rider not found in the EU-Iran statement: “If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.”

In reality, sanctions cannot “snap” back. The process would be difficult at best,  and unlikely to succeed at all now that the EU is pursuing its own agenda. (And what does Russia intend? And China?)

Iran and the EU negotiators now have something they’ve put all their names on, and the US is not a party to it.

And Iran has left the talks without signaling agreement with the US on anything. 

Zarif is at pains to quickly disavow any agreement, which we should find informative. Iran is laying the groundwork for undermining the sanctions regime through the EU, regardless of what the US does. The US Congress may be a nut Iran can’t crack, but if the EU is split from the United States, just about everyone else that’s still enforcing the UN sanctions will follow the EU’s lead.

The split in the West is the top point to remember about the failure of this round of talks. It is virtually certain to be irreparable.

The other two main points to remember are: first, that Iran hasn’t had to give up any facilities; second, Iran hasn’t had to close Fordo, the hardened and buried site in the mountain. And Fordo is by no means the only hardened and buried site Iran has. There are tunnels and underground sites at Natanz, Esfahan, and the Parchin complex as well. The IAEA just hasn’t gotten inspectors into them for years (if ever), and there is no reason to hope they will.  There are also probably other underground sites we know nothing at all about.

Yet Iran has a path now to getting sanctions relief, and otherwise benefiting from a situation in which the EU and the United States are divided, and a divided West means that no multi-party sanctions can be re-imposed once they are lifted.

  • liz

    Daniel Greenfield has summed it up well:
    “Smart power. It’s when your enemies think they’ve defeated and humiliated you but your just biding your time and waiting for the right moment to surrender to them…on your terms.”