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September 22, 2015 10:26 am

Report: Evidence US Is Backtracking on Iran Stance, Restarting Negotiations With Islamic Republic

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Secretary of State John Kerry shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Secretary of State John Kerry shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The U.S. could be easing its policy on sanctions relief for Iran and restarting negotiations with the Islamic Republic, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Monday.

According to the report, the fact that foreign ministers of the P5+1 and Iran are set to meet with their Iranian counterpart in New York next week to “examine the recent developments of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” is evidence of this potential shift.

At a joint press conference in Berlin on Sunday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that he would meet Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on September 28 – on the margins of the UN General Assembly – to discuss “Iran and other matters.”

This, MEMRI points out, comes on the heels of statements emerging from Tehran, which cast doubt on whether the JCPOA was actually finalized.

For example, on Saturday, the head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research, Ali Akbar Velayati, one of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s close advisers, said that the “nuclear negotiations are not over yet.”

Velayati’s assertion was a more diplomatic and abbreviated version of remarks made by Khamenei at the beginning of the month.

In a speech he delivered on September 3 to the Assembly of Experts – the body of Islamic theologians tasked with electing, supervising or removing the supreme leader from power – Khamenei said he did not accept the terms of the agreement as they have been touted by the P5+1 powers, particularly the United States.

“We negotiated [with the Americans] in order to have the sanctions lifted, and the sanctions will be lifted. Now, if we are supposed to uphold this framework… this completely contradicts the reason for Iran’s participation in the talks to begin with. Otherwise, what was the point of our participation in the talks? We would have continued to do what we were doing [prior to the talks]… The fact that we sat down and held talks and made concessions on certain issues was mainly in order to have the sanctions lifted. If the sanctions are not going to be lifted, there will be no agreement… [Our] officials [i.e. Rouhani’s government and his Ministry of Foreign Affairs] should make this clear…

“Freezing or suspension [of the sanctions] is unacceptable to me… If they suspend [the sanctions], we too will suspend [what is incumbent upon us]. If we are to implement what [is required of us], the sanctions must be [actually] cancelled. True, the other side says that some of the sanctions are not [up to them entirely] to be lifted. We say in response that [with regard to those sanctions] we will use our legal rights to freeze them. But regarding [the sanctions that are] in the hands of the American and European governments – those must be totally lifted.”

According to MEMRI, “The apparent meaning of all the above is that the nuclear negotiations, which Iran considers unfinished, will be reopened, with the aim of achieving the complete lifting of sanctions – instead of a mere suspension of them as was agreed in the JCPOA and adopted in U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231.”

In the immediate aftermath of Khamenei’s speech, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated:

“We’ve been crystal clear about the fact that Iran will have to take a variety of serious steps to significantly roll back their nuclear program before any sanctions relief is offered — and this is everything from reducing their nuclear uranium stockpile by 98 percent, disconnecting thousands of centrifuges, essentially gutting the core of their heavy-water reactor at Arak, giving the IAEA the information and access they need in order to complete their report about the potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. And then we need to see Iran begin to comply with the inspections regime that the IAEA will put in place to verify their compliance with the agreement.

“And only after those steps and several others have been effectively completed, will Iran begin to receive sanctions relief. The good news is all of this is codified in the agreement that was reached between Iran and the rest of the international community. And that’s what we will be focused on, is their compliance with the agreement.”

But now, with Iran refusing in retrospect to acknowledge the above, “The expected meeting between the P5+1 foreign ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif may be evidence of a shift in the White House position and also evidence that it intends to discuss the Iranian demand for further concessions from the superpowers,” MEMRI stated. “It should be clarified that agreement on the part of the U.S. to lifting the sanctions would constitute a fundamental change to the JCPOA. This is because lifting the sanctions, rather than suspending them, will render impossible a snapback in case of Iranian violations, and the guarantee of a snapback is one of the central justifications for the JCPOA, according to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.”

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  • jeremy

    I would like to expose an angle no one on earth except maybe Putin knows.

    Lebanon and Syria are by far the best LAND in the whole Middle East, with the best climate (usually) and the most potential.

    If we don’t fight the Mullahs really hard, now, they will seem very very very blessed to the world in the future, just as antisemites have always doen after they colonized the best land while calling your garbage dump (Israel) great and envy worthy.

    If the Jewish people had Syria and Lebanon we would have done a trillion times more with it than we had with Israel.

    I think Putin is the only one on the world stage who realizes that landwise the best place in the mideast to bet on is Lebanon and Syria as the Ottomans had, (it was called Ottoman Syria and the Pasha was headqautered in Damascus not Acre or “jordsan”) Syria by birth right is the best region of the Mideast. Lebanon is second, Israel is at the lower end.

  • Michael OConnor

    Let’s be clear this is no treaty with Iran and the P5+1 it’s an agreement the Iranians have won the battle but not the war because Iran has gained far more time by coming to these talks furthering their NUCLEAR ambitions, Iran is actually laughing all the way to the BOMB, Iran has manipulated the WEST for many years and pulled the wool over our eyes, no wonder OBAMA is starting to backpedal the amount of discontent with his Democratic members along with the Republicans also public opinion Obama is in a corner,maybe just maybe we might get some sense out of the Obama camp at last, or is this wishful thinking.

  • Max Genghis Cohen

    Will the real Iran negotiators and the real Obama negotiators come forward to the real negotiating table? Not really likely!

    • But so many European countries do not follow sanction now or over the last many years. Germany especially is the biggest trader with Iran and has offices in Tehran. Even Nuc building materials are sold. France, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden Texas-USA..Who has strictly been following the sanctions? If countries just did, the power of a good agreement would be easy.

  • Harvey Lloyd

    The Iran deal is the way to a nuclear Middle East and nuclear war. Obama knows it, and may at last, be backing away although his megalomaniac behavior bodes ill for his doing anything to save the world or the U.S. Kerry will pay for his inability to speak the truth to power. Let us hope that reason prevails. A nuclear Iran, guaranteed by the treaty means a nuclear race in the Middle East, the most unstable and dangerous place in the world.

    • It sounds to me like the Religious court of Iran has said NO. I was hoping they would. BUT what about all the countries who already ignore the Sanctions and have been for YEARS…Germany, France, Finland, Japan, Norway, Texas-USA ETC. They have ignored it! That’s why there is no power to make a good deal they will Have to take. These European countries have to Follow Sanctions!!! Germany is the worst. Anyone can google it.

  • Robert Paul

    Obama and Kerry are liars and I don’t trust them to end up with a good deal and to properly present it to Congress.

  • Would Mr Earnest’s ‘variety of serious steps’ on Iran’s part include small matters like the touted ‘anywhere, anytime, 24/7’ inspections? What is left that Messrs Obama & Kerry can still give away?

  • Iran deal is a terrible one. Better start all over again. How can anyone trust Iran? They want to check themself what kind of joke is that?? Put a a good smelling salami on a open table and tell your hungry dog go and check it. Iran is a danger to the USA to Israel and to the whole western world

  • ART

    What this proves is that Obama lied to the US public. He knowingly, intentionally with malice aforethought lied to the US public. Where the hell are the honest Democrats?Have they no shame? Have they no moral fiber?

  • Howard Hirsch


    We can only hope and pray there’s some facts to this story

  • dante

    there is no lie too big for the administration. they are weak, morally corrupt, unprincipled and mendacious. one can expect any betrayal.

  • Greg Malakoff

    Who could have seen that one coming?

  • Reform School

    The Importance of being Earnest is not to get Joshed. If all goes according to Khameni’s plan, Obama and Kerry bow low forward, so Velayati and Zarif can drive them hard!

  • Mickey Oberman

    I am confident Obama will find a way to give Khamenei everything he wants.

  • howiej

    If the deal is “renegotiated” then the Congress must vote again on whether or not to agree to it. Perhaps the Democrats who voted for Obama over the contents of the deal will reconsider their votes.

  • DockyWocky

    al-Obama and Kerry are the real anti-Jewish schmucks. It will take years to recover from their perfidy – if at all. Liberal Jews continue to support these dangerous men. – why? I cannot understand.