Iran and the paradox in P5+1 discourse
Whenever Iranian officials have accepted a new round of nuclear talks with 5+1, those on the western side of the negotiating table considered this as a sign of Iran’s weakness in the face of western pressures. US and UK officials, quoted in the Western media both in papers and broadcast forms, celebrated the talks as a sign that pressures do work and Iran is now responding to these pressures.
But the other side of this discourse reveals much about the western intentions. It goes like this: Iran by refusing to join the talks, is defying the international request. Now to believing deeply in punishing this behavior, the west thinks it needs to apply even more sanctions. Did you get the logic: More sanctions to make Iran talk, and more sanctions because Iran came to talk!This is the old chess game which the US and UK have set up. If Iran resists the western illegal demands because it asserts its rights under the NPT and views as a waste of time talks with a group of players who disregard the tenets of the NPT when it comes to their own adherence, then the western authorities and their papers present this as a ‘defiance’ and suggest that more pressure is necessary to be applied to make Iran reconsider its position and obediently join the talks. But when the Iranian side sees itself compelled to refute these baseless accusations and exposes their argument by agreeing to continue the dialogue, showing that it is ready for talks, and agrees to join a new round (making clear the talks would not be according to the western standards and that Iran would not be ready to give up its rights) then the second side of the game starts to apply: the ‘let’s go to war with Iran’ factions proclaim that pressure on Iran has bore fruit, Iran has been forced to answer them, so now the west must apply more sanctions to make Iran give up any insistence on its rights and come to the table completely submitted to the West.
But anyone familiar with Iranian history and the Shia legacy, know that such a concession of their rights is impossible. I will discuss both national and religious implications later.
Given this paradoxical approach, one may ask why Iran should join the talks since the result of such talks is very much obvious even before they start. Should Iran disregard these fruitless talks, Iranian friends in the world would ask why Iran does not enter the talks when the West insists that it is ready to talk- and they even believe that this means that the West is ready to compromise. But let us look at the real case experienced thus far: Iran by accepting the Brazil - Turkey initiative and then by accepting the Russian plan and now by accepting to enter these two rounds of talks in Istanbul and Baghdad, has made clear to its friends that it is not Iran who is not ready to talk, but it is the US and UK that have made the talks as a voided game to reach their strategic policy of stopping independent nations like Iran from having a peaceful nuclear energy program.
Iran is making clear to everyone in the international arena - independent non-nuclear nations - how difficult it would be to apply their rights even though they are recognized in international pacts and charters.
Considering the western long-term approach to Iran and other countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where the West’s promises of withdrawal do not match their deeds, then any real change in their approach would be surprising.
Already some of the western representatives are making new and different statements that are completely different from their earlier statements before the Istanbul talks. They reject their previous recognition that Iran has a right to uranium enrichment in Iran - a right that Iran has with or without western recognition if international law is the basis.
Is this an old diplomatic tactic to change the position between the rounds of diplomatic talks? Diplomatic talks are either: one round, two rounds or multi-round talks. The two sides apply different tactics for different types of talks. For a two round diplomatic talk, one side may try to refrain from stating its ultimate intention in the early first round, it may tell something to appease the other side to come to the table more open and optimistic. As the first round goes on, it reaches no conclusion since one side is trying to evaluate the other side’s readiness to compromise (in the Iranian case to give up its rights because of sanctions).
Now that another round of talks is coming, the main and old intentions had to be revealed, unsurprisingly. The Western side without a doubt will play its old game again: believing that Iran needs more sanctions to come to the table on their terms, and when it is at the table, and then they impose even more sanctions to make Iran give up every bit of its legal rights.
The Iranian side has repeated many times that it will never give up its national rights. The Iranian nation through its history has considered any leader who insisted on upholding the national rights as a hero - despite the costs that the nation is forced to pay for this resistance. Consider prime-minister Mohammad Mosadegh: by nationalizing the oil and resisting Western pressures, he was elevated to the status of a national hero. On the contrary, when the Ghajar Kings gave into the demands of foreign powers, the Iranian people considered them compromisers and traitors to Iran’s national sovereignty. The Iranian officials today consider this history and think very much about the legacy they will leave for the future and how the next generation will judge them. If they pay some costs - even national - they will guarantee their future.
The religious side of the Islamic Republic is also compelling. According to Islamic and Shia beliefs, and especially the historical legacy of Imam Hussein who fought for the cause of justice in the conflict against the corrupt ruler of Bani-Omyya, a true believer to Islam has no right to compromise on its rights even though he may pay for that by the ultimate prices.
The US and UK, probably know that this paradoxical approach of putting more pressure on Iran to force its compliance will in the end serve no long term interests. Also a western public diplomacy based on the pretense of carrying on serious talks while not being ready to discuss the real issues and refusing to carry out serious engagement - saying one thing while intending to do another thing - will not work in the long term. Sooner or later, especially if the Iranian side continues to stand by its stated objectives and rights, this paradox gets revealed to world public opinion: that the Obama administration made a lot of statements about its intention to change the US foreign policy toward Iran, but did nothing to fulfill them.
They will ask where the extended hand for talks is?