From Frank Brodhead’ Iran War Weekly report:
After eight months of low-profile inactivity, the Iranian nuclear issue sprang to life this week in widely separate venues: Washington and Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan’s capital Almaty, Iran’s nuclear negotiators met with the “P5+1” (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany). The approach of the meeting was smothered in low expectations, as the rumored P5+1 negotiating position seemed indistinguishable from those that had been tried and failed, except for the promise of removing some sanctions that had been recently instituted to restrict the use of gold to make purchases (by-passing sanctions against banks). In Kazakhstan, however, the P5+1 made some changes in the demands it put to Iran, especially in abandoning the demand that Iran’s enrichment plant buried underground at Fordow be dismantled. This was seen by Iran as sufficient to schedule a follow-up meeting for April 5-6, with a “technical meeting” to take place in mid-March.
In the real world, however, the P5+1 demands remain far apart from what Iran has indicated it wants or is willing to give. “The West” still will not recognize Iran’s rights under the NPT to enrich uranium, and it is proposing varying formulas by which Iran must abandon most of its nuclear program before sanctions relief will be considered. Yet the glimmer of movement in Kazakhstan was received as a significant accomplishment in the nuclear-diplomacy world, as several analyses linked below confirm. Iran, especially, expressed satisfaction, seeing the outcome of the meeting as a result of its stout resistance to bullying and sanctions by “the West.”
In the parallel universe of Washington, DC, however, all was not well. The meeting in Kazakhstan immediately preceded the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, a meeting described by one analyst linked below as the annual “Israel-Congress orgy.” True to form, this year’s conference heard US Vice President Joe Biden pledge that the United States would not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu elaborated on the theme of evil Iran and Iran’s drive to build a nuclear bomb. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Israel’s supporters in the Senate collected co-sponsors for a resolution calling on the Obama administration to aid Israel militarily if Israel attacks Iran “in self-defense.” Meanwhile, the House of Representatives busied itself drafting a new round of economic sanctions against Iran. What were seen as heartening diplomatic gains in Kazakhstan were viewed in Washington and Israel as Iran gaining more time – through diplomatic wheel-spinning – to build its bomb.
In addition to articles and essays evaluating these two arenas of diplomacy and non-diplomacy, linked below are good/useful essays by Bishop Desmond Tutu, Hossein Mousavian, and Trita Parsi; a de-construction of the latest IAEA alarm about Iran’s military base at Parchin; an update on economic sanctions against Iran; and some news from the civil war/military intervention in Syria.
For those of you who have read this far down the page, your reward is a lovely short video posted on the website “Wide Asleep in America”: It’s called “Fifty People, One Question: Tehran Edition.”