After a couple weeks of hope, there are more troubling signs about the future of negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. It appeared that the IAEA had struck a deal with Iran for future inspections of previously uninspected sites. Now, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has announced new talks, as well as a revelation about satellite images showing demolished buildings at Parchin, one of the sought-after sites by UN weapons inspectors.
The remarks, by Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, suggested that his announcement less than two weeks ago that Iran had basically agreed to allow access to agency inspectors may have been premature.
Mr. Amano’s remarks also appeared to signal impatience over the pace of Iran’s compliance with his requests. They could reinforce suspicions among Iran’s critics that Tehran has been engaged in a pattern of delaying and possibly seeking to conceal evidence of past nuclear work before agency inspectors visit previously off-limits sites.
“They hit a bump,” David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington research group that tracks the Iranian nuclear program, said in a telephone interview. “Amano is trying to expedite things to make sure it’s not a stalling measure. The agency needs to expedite this and find out if the Iranians are serious.”
I wonder whether Western powers had anything to to with this. Did they want to make sure that the IAEA didn’t get out in front of them as far as the negotiations went? Because Amano was saying as recently as a couple weeks ago that this was a done deal. There was no talk of any issues. Now it’s about delay and satellite images. And who provided the images?
The flip side of this is certainly possible, that Iran announced the breakthrough with the IAEA to set the tone for the last round of talks with the P5+1, and when that didn’t lead to any progress, they dragged their feet. But Iran’s representative to the IAEA certainly put it the other way, saying that “certain elements are trying to distort the constructive atmosphere of cooperation between Iran and the agency through political controversy.”
We know there are plenty of people rooting for failure in the diplomatic talks. John Bolton said it explicitly in an op-ed yesterday, gloating that “Fortunately [...] the recently concluded Baghdad talks between Iran and the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany (P-5+1) produced no substantive agreement.” Because that would be terrible.
Similarly, conservative darling Marco Rubio told the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday that it’s time to “prepare the people of the country and the people of the world to the reality that negotiations are probably not going to work and ultimately sanctions may not work.” Not if he has anything to say about it, anyway.
Between these exhortations toward failure (also coming from hardliners on the Iranian side) and spurious news reports implying that technical glitches equal nefarious activity, it’s a wonder that the West is having talks at all with Iran at this stage. Neoconservatives will continue trying to force a military showdown, which would be completely irrational.