Breakthrough in Iran Nuclear Negotiations

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and deputy nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, announced Jan 10 that agreement just had been reached at Geneva between Iran and the “P5+1,” the UN permanent Security Council members plus Germany, on implementing their November 24 6-month interim agreement on limits to Iran’s nuclear programs in exchange for billions in sanctions relief.

He told Iran state television, “we found solutions for all the points of disagreements, but the implementation of the Geneva agreement depends on the final ratification of the capitals,” the New York Times reported. Other officials have privately said that January 20 is the target date for final ratification. At that point the six-month interim agreement will enter into effect, while a final agreement is negotiated at the same time.

Araqchi told the IRNA news agency that the governments should respond within two days as to whether they accept the terms, i.e. well before their formal ratification.

A spokesman for the P5+1, represented by the EU’s deputy negotiator Helga Schmid, said “Deputy Secretary General Schmid and Deputy Foreign Minister Araqchi made very good progress on all pertinent issues. This is now under validation at political level in capitals.”

On January 9, as the end of the negotiations neared, US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman stopped in Geneva en route to Moscow, first joining the Araqchi-Schmid talks, and then held a bilateral meeting with Araqchi.

Iran a “Necessary Participant” in Geneva Conference, German Foreign Minister Says

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Jan. 8 that the upcoming Geneva conference on Syria would be “useless” without Iran’s participation, although he expressed uncertainty as to whether the conference will finally materialize and what will come out of it, al Monitor reported Jan. 9.

As al Monitor reports, Steinmeier made this statement to Lebanon’s daily As-Safir during a visit to Brussels, where he met with EU officials. He expressed the hope that “the conference will be attended by the participants who are crucial to achieve, at the very least, some sort of significant progress,” although it’s unclear, he said, that Syria’s opposition will attend.

Steinmeier said he considered Iran a “necessary participant” in Geneva for progress to be achieved. “We do not know to what extent the neighboring countries of Syria will participate in this process. This affects Iran and its participation in particular… I hope for these issues to be resolved in the coming days.” John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov will be meeting Jan. 13 to make a final decision on Iran’s participation in Geneva.

While in Brussels, Steinmeier criticized the Syrian chemical weapons agreement, saying it lacked provisions for establishing humanitarian corridors in the country to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians. This is an issue, he said, that should also be discussed in Geneva.

World Bulletin reported Jan. 9 that during a joint press conference in Berlin Jan. 8 with his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, Steinmeier reiterated his feeling that Iran’s participation in Geneva is necessary. “My experience tells me that the security situation would not improve by excluding certain parties.”

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Calls for Iranian Participation in Geneva II Conference, and Sane Western Policy Toward President Rouhani

In a Jan. 8 press conference in Tehran, former British Foreign Secretary and current Labour Party MP Jack Straw, called for Iran’s participation in the upcoming Geneva II talks on Syria. “We believe very strongly that a solution to the terrible situation in Syria is only possible with the full involvement of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Straw said, as reported by Iran’s PressTV today. “We believe that the Islamic Republic should be invited to the Geneva II talks as a full participant without condition,” he added.

Straw’s remarks directly counter British imperial policy, backed by lunatics in Washington, of waging war against Iran and Syria to blow up the entire Mid-East region in a conflict that has brought the world to the verge of thermonuclear war. This isn’t the first time Straw has stepped on imperial toes. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair dumped Straw as Foreign Secretary in 2006, because of Straw’s reservations about Mid-East policy and the Iraq war. The Jan. 3 Mirror reported Staw’s remarks that “Tony and I were getting to a different place on handling Iran and handling Hamas, and Tony certainly felt disconcerted when I said that it was inconceivable that the UK would go to war with Iran and described a nuclear attack as nuts.”

Visiting Tehran in his capacity as the head of the Britain-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group, Straw stressed that the British government wants economic sanctions against Iran lifted and diplomatic relations, broken in 2011, restored. In a meeting with the head of the Iran-Britain Parliamentary Friendship Group, Abbas Ali Arani, he stressed that “our efforts are now surely aimed at improving the relations with the framework of mutual interests.”

During his four-day visit to Tehran, during which he met with government officials, members of the Majlis (Iran’s Parliament) and other political leaders, Straw also stated that he supported Iran’s rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

While in Tehran, according to the Tehran Times, citing AFP, Straw condemned the “malign force” which both Britain and the UK had represented toward Iran in the past. “If you were an Iranian, just an ordinary Iranian, you could be forgiven for thinking that over the decades, the U.S. and the UK have been a very malign force—and indeed—we have been.” He described the two nations’ role in organizing the 1953 coup d’etat against the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, whose moves to take over the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company had infuriated the Empire.

Straw also pointed to the West’s support for Saddam Hussein “in a war which he provoked and for which Iran was the victim.”

Upon returning to London Jan. 9, Straw told BBC that Iran’s new leadership, under President Rouhani, wants to have a “normal relationship with the West. It is important, he said, to do everything possible to boost Iran’s moderate forces, and “not to give succor to hardliners.” Rouhani, he said, is “very committed to change, but he faces his own difficulties and how the West reacts to this can either help or significantly undermine him, and so it’s really important that we build up better understanding of the position of Iran.”

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