US’ Political Nervousness in Facing Iran

23 December 2013 | 15:32 Code : 1926435 Interview General category
An interview with Sirous Nasseri, a former member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team
US’ Political Nervousness in Facing Iran

After almost one month since the signing of the Geneva Agreement, there are still some criticisms inside the country with regard to its text. What is your assessment of the text of the Joint Plan of Action?

I have carefully studied the Geneva Agreement and as a person who has more than thirty years of experience in different negotiations, I can firmly say that what Iran has achieved in this agreement is very considerable compared to what it has given. Certainly, this agreement is to the benefit of Iran and Iran’s views have been regarded in it. What Iran has gained is a series of quality understandings and what it has given is a series of quantitative understandings which cannot be compared with each other.

To describe this agreement more clearly, the main party to this dispute, meaning the US, has been forced to accept enrichment and the maintenance of enriched materials in Iran. This is while, during the past ten years, the US has strongly and completely opposed this issue. In this agreement, the US has both in writing and in speaking accepted these two main positions of Iran. This is a huge retreat of the US administration in its positions, measures and recorded statements during the past ten years.

Some, both inside and outside of Iran, believe that there is no balance between the concessions that were given and those which have been gained. Is this a correct statement?

This is a correct statement, but to Iran’s benefit and not the other party. What Iran has given is very limited and little and what it has gained is very huge and major. The Iranian team has not ignored any of its positions but the US, which has artificially created this dispute in the global scene to establish consensus in the world to stop Iran’s nuclear program, has backed down from its positions. Some might say that what the US has backed down from in its positions are conditioned to certain circumstances but this is not an important issue; what is important is that the principle of enrichment and maintaining enriched materials in Iran has been accepted in the agreement.

This agreement is a huge achievement for Iran which, of course, is the result of the ten year resistance of the people, the correct direction and management of the issues by high-ranking officials of the country and the very high capabilities of the negotiating team. It is a pity for this main issue which is a great achievement for the country to be damaged in the scene of criticisms.

Perhaps one of the doubts about this agreement mentions an item which states that if an agreement is not made upon one of the items, no agreement is made upon any of the principles and the negotiating party might not show the necessary commitment to certain parts of the text. Could these doubts justify the criticisms with regard to this issue?

If this agreement was final, I could have said with certitude that the nuclear issue had ended and resolved to Iran’s benefit, but since it is temporary, it must include clauses and mechanisms to open the path for both parties so that in case that they reach the conclusion that the other party has not fulfilled its commitments, or part of the agreement has been damaged, they could consider the entire agreement unimplemented. This item is needed for both parties. Of course it is more useful for us. What Iran is committed to is the issues that are implementable because they are not beyond the standard and the usual norm within international laws. But what the other party has agreed to is to retreat from the unfair positions it has insisted upon for many years. Therefore, there is more possibility that the other party would not fulfill its commitments.

This item creates this possibility for the Islamic Republic to consider the entire agreement as an agreement which has never been implemented and brings no commitment with regard to the other party so long as its proposed conditions are not met in the final agreement. Even if certain measures are taken within this period regarding the implementation of this agreement, they are all retrievable.

Recently the US has added new individuals and legal entities to its list of new sanctions. At the same time, the EU has also related the timing of the implementation of the agreement to the report of the IAEA while the beginning of January was previously proposed as the time of its implementation. Would such measures lead to the violation of the agreement and creating challenges for the negotiations in the next rounds?

I should mention three points in this regard. The first is that these measures which were taken in Europe and the US repeatedly and consecutively could create doubts in the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to the good faith of the other party. The second point is that the main reason behind taking such measures by the other party is that they, particularly the US, are faced with political nervousness because they intend to justify their retreat from some of their illegal positions during the last decade and this is difficult for them to do. Thus, they take certain sideline moves to resolve this issue in their domestic scene. Therefore, this issue is caused by their inability to affirm the issues which they were forced to accept. But the third point is that these moves and measures are, in my opinion, very small and trivial compared with the big and important issues upon which both parties have agreed.

I believe that there is no possibility that such measures will continue later on and affect the final agreement. What is difficult for the final agreement are the remaining issues which are by nature and form major and difficult issues. The resolution of the remaining issues is not an easy task and needs painstaking negotiations. There is this possibility that, in this path, the two parties will face conflicts at some junctures and take harsh positions but they will bypass these obstacles.

Could Iran take retaliatory measures against the US and Europe and if it takes such measure will the agreements be cancelled?

One thing is obvious and I intend to reiterate that. If the US decides to intensify some of the sanctions beyond this agreement with the excuse that they are not included in this agreement, then the Islamic Republic of Iran can certainly take numerous measures with regard to the nuclear issue which have not been included in the agreement and which Iran has no commitment about. Iran still has other rights in the NPT and safeguards of the IAEA about which no measure has yet been taken because they were not included in its nuclear program.

If the US and Europe decide to be difficult, Iran could also begin new nuclear measures which are not included in the Geneva agreement. Therefore, this issue is a dangerous game for them and they will ultimately regret it. I believe that they consider this issue in their calculations; hence, it seems impossible that they would repeat such measures.

But Mr. Cohen, as an official who is in charge of imposing sanctions in the Department of Treasury, has stated that the spirit of sanctions rules over the signed agreement and what has been proposed in this agreement as the suspension and easing of sanctions will not render anything to Iran.

Mr. Cohen is a small part of the US administration and his position is at most that of a middle-ranking director. If we intend to compare his role in the US administration to Iran’s system of government, he would be a deputy of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in our country who writes and implements the export regulations. Mr. Cohen is not at a level to state the positions of the US administration. But since, during the past years, the Department of Treasury and the section which is directed by Mr. Cohen has supervised the illegal and inhumane sanctions which were imposed against Iran, his role is artificially highlighted in the US.

I believe that the weakening of sanctions would ultimately weaken his position in the US administration. Right now he receives a huge budget from the US Congress to travel all over the world and meet with high-level influential people and CEOs of economic institutions and heads of state. Therefore, part of these statements is made due to his personal benefits.

But the US administration has committed itself to the reduction of sanctions and ultimately their removal in the Geneva Agreement. This is the responsibility of the US administration to firmly fulfill its commitments and to manage the government officials. Therefore the statement made by Mr. Cohen is not a correct measure and the US administration is directly responsible for it. Iran can rightfully expect that these moves be corrected and their repetition be prevented.

The spokesperson of the US National Security Council has also stated that these sanctions are related to the nuclear issue and the other sanctions in the area of human rights and missile equipments will continue. Is it possible that they would ignore their commitments in the agreement and impose such sanctions?

The US pursues two regimes of sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of them is related to the hostile positions of this country which have gradually been adopted and have no relation to the nuclear issue. What has been stated in the agreement, whether in spirit or in the text, is that the negotiations are exclusively related to the nuclear issue, thus, whatever is committed to is also exclusively related to the nuclear issue and this is a correct method. Other issues are not supposed to enter into this agreement.

But what is the effect of this statement made by the US? It means that if this interim agreement is led to the final agreement, Europe and the rest of the world will cancel all the sanctions which they are imposing against Iran. Now if the US intends to continue its series of non-nuclear sanctions due to its hostile policies against Iran, it will be deprived of a free and open trade with Iran while Europe will benefit from it. Thus, such statements will ultimately cause damages to them.

Does the US measure in making a new list of individuals and legal entities violate the Geneva Agreement?

This measure does not violate the context of the Geneva Agreement but is not compatible with good faith. It is certainly to the benefit of the US administration to prevent such measures. The reason is that if it intends to continue these measures based on these justifications, I, based on my knowledge of the IAEA rules and regulations, know that Iran has numerous possibilities beyond the Geneva Agreement that if it decides to enforce them, the negotiating situation for the US and western parties will become very difficult and this equation would turn more to Iran’s benefit. Therefore, they will understand that it is not to their benefit to continue this path.

Can we hope to reach the final agreement by taking the first step?

I believe yes. The main party to this dispute is the US. They have created an artificial dispute by taking hostile positions and it was the US which sought to establish an international consensus against Iran. I believe that the present US administration has reached the conclusion that it is not able to provide its political objectives and interests in at least this region and also in the world without having logical relations with Iran. Therefore, the US administration is determined to resolve this matter. Of course there are numerous people at the international level who oppose this path and are very active in this regard to change the approach of the US administration. But I believe that this agreement will ultimately and after one year lead to a final agreement despite all the difficulties on its path.

tags: iran geneva nuclear US