Some Success In Round One

The term "sanction" was never uttered in Geneva talks


Some Success In Round One
by Ardeshir Ommani

The European Union Foreign policy Chief Javier Solana at the end of his talks with Iran's negotiating team at Geneva, Switzerland on Oct. 1st reported Iran's readiness to allow the Inspector of the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit its recently declared uranium enrichment plant. The visit relieved the tension orchestrated by President Barack Obama and his European allies, President Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain.

Another progress at the Geneva talks between the Iranian delegation headed by its chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the representatives of the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, Chine and Germany, was that the U.S. and other world powers agreed to process low-enriched uranium from Iran to the height of 20 percent purity for use in Iran's laboratory-medical research reactor in Tehran. This was a great success for the negotiating process and for Iran in asserting its inalienable right to nuclear enrichment. In a meeting between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a group of former diplomats, spokesmen of U.S. think tanks and journalists on September 24, in which this author was in attendance, Iran's president openly announced that if the western countries refuse to provide us [Iran] with required enriched uranium, we take it upon ourselves to process it for the 40 megawatt reactor sold by the United States to Iran during reign of the Shah’s regime.

A third step in the direction of real negotiations at the highly anticipated Thursday meeting in Switzerland was the high level one-on-one talk between a senior U.S. official, William Burns, with Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili. After 30 years this was the first time that the U.S. on a bi-lateral level agreed to dialogue directly with a high-level official in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This meeting was a clear expression of U.S. recognition of Iran's government legitimacy after the 1979 Revolution. Still on the positive side, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just minutes after the talks described the latest negotiations as "productive". She said, "I would count it as a positive sign when it moves from gestures and engagements to actions and results."

On the negative side lurks the U.S. plot of actualizing what is called "freeze-for-freeze." On September 25, by posturing as messengers of Iran’s nuclear enrichment "secrets" and calling for one more round of harsh sanctions dished out of a table full of all sorts of threats, the leaders of the imperialist countries believed that the new revelation about the Qom site would give them the leverage needed to force Iran to accept the "freeze-for-freeze" proposal, which Iran walked away from fifteen months earlier. Under that scenario, Iran had to temporarily stop adding to its fuel enrichment capacity in exchange for a halt to new U.S. promoted United Nations sanctions. As they tried with the "additional protocol" that Iran under President Khatami adopted in 2003, the western hegemonic powers intend to turn the temporary and voluntary halt into a permanent suspension and resultantly cripple the Iranian independent uranium industry. But just like last time, Iran's chief negotiator categorically declared that Iran would never give up its obvious rights.

What did Iran Gain?

"These were historic negotiations," admits David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington. "But in a funny way, I'd say Round 1 went more for [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad than for Obama." One critical reason is that Iran got high-profile international talks that included the U.S. representative without much mention of a suspension of its nuclear enrichment program and the inspection of the site under construction was already discussed between Iran’s chief of its nuclear program, Saeed Jalili, and the director general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei.

One thing is certain – Iran's willingness to purchase certain amounts of up to 20 percent enriched uranium is not the same as giving up its uranium enrichment program. In this regard, Albright says that Iran's gesture of purchasing some nuclear fuel may be less than meets the eye. "If Iran doesn't accept a framework for getting to suspension [of nuclear enrichment], the U.S. has failed," he added.

But the spin-doctors in the media and the Obama Administration have already begun patching the holes in the U.S. diplomacy. Also there could be seen a crack in the shield of Obama's international united front when the French authorities began criticizing U.S. diplomacy for being too accommodating toward Iran.

The last, but not least important result of the negotiations was the reduction, at least for now, of the threat of additional sanctions on the financial, insurance and energy sectors of Iran’s economy and their impact on recovery, which has been made repeatedly by the U.S., United Kingdom and the bourgeois republic of France, not to mention Israel, in the last 30 years. As a final note, it is illuminating to mention that the western diplomats underscored that the term "sanction" was never uttered during the lengthy 71/2 hours of negotiations.

The agreement concerning the medical reactor and foreign countries enrichment of Iran's low grade uranium is a way of promoting mutual cooperation and extending the time for carrying out negotiations. A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity said "It is a confidence building measure which will, to some extent, alleviate tension and buy some more diplomatic space to pursue the more fundamental problem(s)."


Ardeshir Ommani is an Iranian-born writer and co-founder of the American Iranian Friendship Committee, (AIFC), which advocates dialogue and peace between the U.S. and Iran. His articles of analysis on Iran-U.S. relations, and the U.S. economy can be viewed at: The author may be contacted at:


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Everyone knows the sanctions were "on the table", so...

by Ostaad on

whether they were mentioned or not is irrelevant.

Regarding the "freeze-for-freeze", I am not sure that Mr. Ommani, or anyone else who is not privy to these high level negotiations, can say what Iran agreed to during the closed door negotiations, but I'm sure Mr. Jalili's "declaration" was purely for public consumption. I am of the opinion that Iran will accept the freeze-for-freeze, maybe on a temporary basis to begin with, once the threat of the new sanctions become more real.

In fact I think implementing the freeze-for-freeze concept is a win-win for all parties involved, if Iran can negotiate a temporary lifting of the existing sanctions as an incentive. The Iranian regime needs to sell it's new "openness" to the Iranian people, who have been suffering under their despotic reign, too, and a temporary lifting of the existing sanctions goes a long way to assuage Iranian mistrust of the "imperialists" too.