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December 16, 2014 1:55 pm

Iranian Desire to Lift Sanctions Dominates Agenda at Geneva Nuclear Talks

avatar by Ben Cohen

Back where they started: Iranian and American negotiators in Geneva this week. Photo: Twitter

As nuclear talks between international negotiators and Iranian representatives got underway in Geneva today following two days of direct US-Iranian bilateral negotiations, the Tehran regime again stressed the importance of lifting sanctions against it, leading some analysts to express concern that sanctions relief may be applied even in the absence of a deal that satisfies western powers.

Iranian chief negotiator and deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi described the atmosphere at the bilateral negotiations as having “proceeded in a good ambience.” Aragchi stressed that “there were elaborate discussions on all topics, especially sanctions” – the issue that the Iranian regime is most concerned about.

A New York Times report today portrayed the sanctions issue as the dividing line between Iranian conservatives who reject a deal and the putative moderates, led by President Hasan Rouhani, who see a nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions as the price to pay for Iran’s full participation in international affairs.

“Mr. Rouhani came to office this year promising not just to strike a nuclear deal that would lift economic sanctions but to end Iran’s isolation from the world economy and to promote individual freedoms,” The Times observed.

Rouhani’s determination to lift the sanctions has worried some analysts, who posit that the Obama Administration may back down on key verification demands in order to boost the regime’s “moderate” faction.

“Iranian officials have a vested interest in presenting the talks as proceeding according to their list of desiderata,” Michael Doran, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense in the George W. Bush Administration who now works for the Hudson Institute think-tank in Washington DC,  told The Algemeiner. “That said, the Obama administration has shown a disturbing tendency to back away from previous red lines, of which forcing Iran to divulge the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear program is one of the most important – precisely because it is a prerequisite for effective monitoring.”

Any deal that offered sanctions relief before Iran has satisfied the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) concerns about the military aspects of its nuclear program “is a very bad deal,” Doran said.

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Algemeiner that Iran had persuaded the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -“that neither its missile program nor the possible military dimensions of it nuclear research should be part of a final deal.”

“Instead, we are down to just discussions on how to remove sanctions in exchange for a short term enhanced inspection arrangement that cannot possibly be relied upon to discover undeclared facilities,” Ottolenghi said. “Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is trading long term security for a short term diplomatic victory.”

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