Is Iran Ready to Compromise?
Image Credit: Daniella Zalcman

Is Iran Ready to Compromise?


It’s not easy reading the tea leaves in Tehran, especially when it comes to Iran’s controversial nuclear programme. But over the past few weeks, Iran has sent out a steady stream of signals that it’s willing to talk, and they’ve put some fairly specific proposals on the table.

It’s possible to argue about every one of them, and as always dealing with Iran’s belligerency and fractured internal politics makes it daunting to even the most optimistic among the diplomacy-minded. Still, something important seems to be happening. And, so far at least, the United States hasn’t responded at all to Iran’s overtures, except with bombastic rhetoric of its own.

In early September, Vice President Fereydoun Abbasi of Iran declared that Iran would allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ‘full supervision’ of Iran’s nuclear programme if sanctions imposed by the United Nations and world powers were lifted. ‘We proposed that the agency keep Iran’s nuclear programme and activities under full supervision for five years provided that sanctions against Iran are lifted,’ he said. Around the same time, Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, was reported by the Associated Press to have written a letter to the six world powers involved in talks with Iran that offered to resume talks on the nuclear issue without preconditions, saying that Iran is ‘ready to cooperate in…non-proliferation and peaceful nuclear cooperation.’

Soon afterward, Iran reconfirmed its support for a Russian-sponsored effort to get the talks back on track. Since last spring, Russia has been seeking to restart talks in what Moscow calls a step-by-step process, in which each side would engage in confidence-building measures, including the lifting of some sanctions by the United Nations. In mid-September, in response to the Russian plan, Jalili declared, ‘Our Russian friends’ suggestion could be a basis for starting talks for regional and international cooperation especially in the field of peaceful nuclear activities.’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted that if Iran were to freeze the production of centrifuges, Russia would refrain from supporting any new sanctions.

And finally, in a series of interviews with US newspapers, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran was willing to suspend the production of uranium enriched to 20 percent if the United States would agree to sell Iran nuclear fuel rods used to produce medical isotopes at the aging Tehran Research Reaction (TRR). ‘If you give us uranium grade 20 percent now, we will stop production,’ he said.

Some of these measures, of course, aren’t big sacrifices for Iran. At present, although Iran possesses 70 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent – and another 4,500 kilograms enriched to 3.5 percent, the standard level for fuel-grade product – it probably doesn’t yet have the ability to turn that uranium into fuel rods for the TRR. In addition, because of international sanctions and other technological problems, Iran is facing growing difficulties in producing smoothly functioning, new centrifuges, and it may lack some of the critical materials to do so.

In addition, in regard to Iran’s offer to allow the IAEA to engage in ‘full supervision’ of its programme, Iranian officials didn’t make clear what exactly they meant. Does it mean that the IAEA can engage in unrestricted inspections of all Iranian sites, at any time? Does it mean that UN inspectors could interview Iranian nuclear scientists? Does it mean that Iran would fully implement so-called ‘additional protocols’ that are part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty that Iran has signed?

October 21, 2011 at 09:52

Well said, Liz. Onslo, do a simple math, who brought more hell to the Middle East in the past 100 plus years? And who has more capability to bring more hell to the Middle East: Iran or Israel? Look at their modern histories; has Iran invaded a single inch of any one of their neighboring countries? Has Iran dropped cluster bombs and high-incendiary (phosphorus) rockets? And look at the crazy nut-jobs in Israeli parliament and the fascist racist extremist civilians with Uzis on their shoulders walking in the streets. Look at the the fascist rabbis that preach that killing Arabs are sanctified.

October 7, 2011 at 23:23

I think you have Iran confused with the Dispensationalist Evangelical Christians who support Israel in order to bring about the End Times – which is why AIPAC regularly invites the anti-semitic Rev. Hagee to speak at their conferences.

October 5, 2011 at 04:03

Iran wants to nuke Israel so that the Mahdi will return.

October 4, 2011 at 12:51

No matter what Iran does it will not be good to satisfy Israel that by its own admission controls America and they now it.Iran will do what needs to be done to stop a war that most likely will turn into WW3.If I was Iran I would do the same but the sad thing is it leaves them without the best deterent of a illegal war followed by an illegal occupation.I just hop[e Russia and China stand strong against any illegal war by America and Israel.Americas government is stupid and so is Israels so we will be lucky to live the next 20 years without a nucular WW3.If it happens no one wins but its better to live free with your sovernty than die giving it up to criminals.I’m 33 and have a 5 year old son that means the world to me but if it happens and we don’t make it his mom my wife that I love to will be in GODs hands at least it will be fair.

October 4, 2011 at 07:25

The real question is whether Av Leiberman is ready to compromise, because he pulls Netanyahu’s strings, and Netanyahu controls Obama, at least insofar as Iran is concerned. Obama would not dare so much as even read a message from Iran unless Netanyahu says it’s okay first. And Netanyahu has far, far too much to gain by using Iran as a distraction away from Israel’s increasing isolation to ever give up Iran-Is-Evil-and-means-to-destroy-us as a stick to hit the international community with.

The only offer Netanyahu would accept would be for Iran to give up nuclear power entirely, disband their armed forces, pay reparations to Israel for the bullets Israel were forced to expend to kill Lebanese civilians, and make Hebrew the official language of the country besides.

So one should not hold one’s breath.

David K.
October 3, 2011 at 23:57

To all of those pro US/Israel pundits pointing fingers at Hezbollah…giver you nefarious hypocrisy a rest. Hezbollah was founded in order to remove the Israeli terror machine from Lebanon after it illegally attacked and murdered twenty-thousand Lebanese in 1982. Furthermore, Irans concessions in the face of Israel’s illegal nuclear weapons stockpile are quite generous. Iran has never attacked anyone, note would they if they had nukes. Nukes deter imperial powers like the US and NATO from launching illegal and criminal intrusions upon non-threatening countries like Iran and North Korea. Unfortunately the fabricated hype/propaganda from the US media would have you believe otherwise.

October 3, 2011 at 22:05

No matter what Iran does, the US and Israel will move the goalposts. Just look at what happened when Iran accepted a deal to have nuclear material enriched outside Iran. This is a reapreat of the process that happened with Hussein in Iraq. The aim of theUS/Israel is the same as with Iraq – regime change and destruction of Iranian civil society. But don’t mention the oil.

October 3, 2011 at 15:29

Give it a rest Ali. We’re sick and tired of you repeating this. Iran’s nuclear program is not about the hezbollah. It started under the Shah, with the encouragement and support of the United States. It is the sovereign right of the Iranian people and nation, not any regime. In your blind frustrations over the regimes longevity you seem to overlook that.

October 3, 2011 at 15:27

I’m sorry but Dreyfuss has no idea what he’s talking about. He mischaracterizes Iran as the party that has refused to talk thus far, when in fact Iran has been making compromise offers for many years now, including offers to ratify the Additional Protocol, to cap enrichment, and to open its nuclear program to joint participation with the US. They even went as far as to voluntarily suspend enrichment for over 2 years and allow “anytime, anywhere” inspections, as a good faith gesture. The only reason they started enriching to 20% in the first place is because the US-inspired sanctions has made it impossible for Iran to acquire the reactor fuel necessary for the TRR (a reactor that the US gave to Iran in the first place) which is used to make isotopes for cancer victims. The reactor has absolutely no weapons proliferation possibility and yet we prevented even that deal. The Iranians were even willing to ship out their uranium overseas and the Obama administration killed that deal at the last minute by imposing yet more demands that IRan totally give up enrichment. Dreyfuss is blissfully unaware of this history, apperently. As 6 former European ambassadors to Iran have written, it is the US that has created this standoff by demanding that Iran give up the sovereign right to enrich uranium for even entirely peaceful purposes. This excessive demand is intended to keep the standoff alive, because ultimately, the US is merely using this alleged threat of nuclear proliferation in Iran as a pretext and justification for regime change – something even former IAEA head Elbaradei said is the real goal of the US. This has nothing to do with nukes or any Iranian refusal to talk – it is about regime change and justifying aggression against Iran.

Ali Mostofi
October 3, 2011 at 00:20

The use of the word “Iran” is wrong Richard. Iranians are more than willing to act. The Hezbollah Party does not.

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