US to keep talking to India, others on Iran oil sanctions
Diplomatic Mission in India and Iran (Dec 7, 2013)
Notwithstanding difficulties faced by countries like India in reducing oil purchases from Iran, the US has said it will keep talking to them to enforce sanctions despite the landmark nuclear deal with the Islamic state. “We’ve been very clear that as we negotiated the firststep agreement and as we negotiate the final agreement...the core architecture of Iran’s oil and banking sector sanctions remain in place,” US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters. “We have done a lot of diplomatic hard work - very hard diplomatic, tireless work, with countries like India, Japan, South Korea, others, to put in place these sanctions on Iran’s oil,” Harf said. “We know it’s not easy for these countries, but we all have done it because it’s in the world’s interest to put pressure on Iran to get them to a diplomatic solution to their nuclear programme.” Harf said the US is “going to keep talking to these countries” about enforcing the sanctions. A landmark deal was reached in Geneva on November 24 between Iran and the P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme that the West suspects has military dimensions. Iran vehemently rejects the charge. The six-month Geneva agreement freezes Iran’s nuclear drive in exchange of some sanctions being lifted as a final solution is worked out. Harf said, “We are going to keep enforcing a majority of the sanctions and we’ll keep having these conversations. We ...would actively fight any attempts to use this firststep agreement as a way for people to somehow try to evade sanctions in any way.” The US shares Israel’s concerns and that is why it believes it is important to get a diplomatic resolution to this problem, she said.
Iran and Gulf states make tentative diplomatic moves
United Arab Emirates Foreign
Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed on a rare visit to Iran on Thursday called for a partnership with Iran, but suspicion remains despite Tehran’s tentative overtures towards its Gulf neighbours. Mostly Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states are wary of Iranian influence in the Middle East, fearing the Shi’iteled country is seeking regional dominance and stirring sectarian tensions. Improving relations with regional countries is a central plank of Iran’s diplomatic policy under its new president, Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who will visit Kuwait and Oman next week. “We are neighbours but do not confine ourselves to this and are calling to be partners,” Sheikh Abdullah was quoted as saying by Iran’s official IRNA news agency. Zarif, speaking after the meeting with Sheikh Abdullah, who also met President Rouhani, said peace would benefit everybody in the region. “We see the progress of countries in the region as a success and any type of danger as a threat to them. Security and development cannot be separated and we see relations with regional countries as taking this form,” IRNA quoted him as saying. They made no mention of a longstanding dispute between the two countries over the ownership of a small group of Gulf islands, or of accusations by the Gulf Cooperation Council, to which the UAE belongs, that Tehran has plotted attacks in Bahrain. The GCC consists of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman. Zarif was quoted on Wednesday by Kuwait’s state news agency as saying he would visit Kuwait and Oman next week. He added he also planned to visit Saudi Arabia but had not yet set a date. On Tuesday, Iran’s former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said he wanted better relations with Saudi Arabia in an interview with the Financial Times. Rouhani and Zarif have stressed greater regional stability as a priority, arguably an attempt to blunt the opposition of Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, to Tehran’s newly minted nuclear deal with world powers. SYRIA After they met in Kuwait on Wednesday, GCC foreign ministers said they hoped the deal would lead to a comprehensive solution to Iran’s nuclear crisis, but that this would require goodwill. On Thursday Bahrain’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa said Iran’s Arab neighbours needed assurances that the nuclear deal would enhance regional security. Alluding to previous accusations Iran was behind a popular uprising in Bahrain, he said and that Gulf Arab states wanted to be certain the accord “would not be at the expense of the security of any of the (Gulf Cooperation) Council”. Sunday’s six-month interim deal involves some reversible sanctions relief in return for more international oversight of Iran’s nuclear programme. Saudi Arabia, the largest and most powerful of the GCC states, gave a guarded welcome to the deal, but it still views Tehran with suspicion. U.S. President Barack Obama made a phone call to Saudi King Abdullah to reassure him about the deal. Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say Riyadh fears the agreement will take pressure off Iran and allow it scope to operate in other Arab countries. Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in a tussle for influence across the Arab world, backing opposing forces in political struggles in Lebanon, Iraq,
Bahrain and Yemen. They also support opposing sides in Syria’s civil war, pitting Iranian ally President Bashar al-Assad against mostly Sunni rebels armed and financed by countries including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. On Wednesday the opposition Syrian National Coalition said it would attend peace talks planned for January in Geneva. GCC foreign ministers said the meeting must put in place a timeframe for a transitional government and should not involve any opposition group other than the coalition.
India to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue through dialogues, diplomacy
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said that India would resolve matters related to Iran’s nuclear issue through dialogues and diplomacy. “As you are aware, the agreement that has been signed between Iran and the five plus one, has been signed, and we are in touch with key interlocutors to ascertain the exact details of that agreement,” he said. “However, I can inform you that India welcomes the prospect of resolving matters related to Iran’s nuclear issue through dialogues and diplomacy,” he added. Earlier in the day, Iran signed an agreement with six major world powers led by United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany to curb its nuclear activities for six months in exchange for limited relief from sanctions. The six-month period is intended to give time to the international community to work towards a comprehensive agreement. According to reports, the package includes freezing Iran’s ability to enrich uranium at a maximum five per cent level, which is well below the threshold for weapons-grade material and is aimed at easing Western concerns that Tehran could one day seek nuclear arms.
Iran’s nuclear deal: what’s in it for India?
After intense negotiations and months of backdoor diplomacy, the US was successful in blocking the way to Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a historic deal between the representatives of the so-called P5+1 group of nations - the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany - reached an agreement with Iran. According to the agreement, Iran has committed to halt uranium enrichment beyond 5 per cent and will give greater access to inspectors. There won’t be more sanctions on Iran for six months and it will receive sanctions relief worth $7 billion. Hailing the agreement, US President Barack Obama said “Today that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure, a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon”. Ind ia has also welcomed the deal but it isn’t going to help New Delhi in paying Iran for its oil in dollars, at least not immediately. Sanctions affecting crude oil sales will continue to be imposed, to keep the pressure on. The US will maintain the vast bulk of its sanctions, including finance, and banking sanctions architecture. Nor is it expected to infuse energy into the dormant Iran-India pipeline dream. Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said “We can see issues in terms of the oil and gas pipeline; we will take it to the later stage because there are issues related to that, which are of longstanding nature as they deal with commercial and financial aspects”. Many Iranians feel their new president Hassan Rouhani has delivered. Replacing hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a moderate, Rouhani insisted the deal recognised Iran’s nuclear rights. It has also been backed by Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As expected, Iran’s arch enemy, Israel, has called the deal a historic mistake. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reported to have said his country reserved the right to defend itself. The deal is being seen as a first step.
Iran needs to prove the ‘nuclear right’ is for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, failing which it can face more isolation and pressure.
Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sing and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh (L) meets Indian Ambassador to Tehran Shri D P Srivastava