Talks only way out of Iranian nuke standoff
HOPES for a comprehensive deal on the Iranian nuclear issue by Monday were already fading, due to gaps on key aspects among the related parties. But negotiations, instead of threat of sanctions, still remain the only way out of the standoff.
Iran and six world powers, namely Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US began their latest round of talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna on November 18. It was hoped that a comprehensive deal could be reached by Monday that would ensure the peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program, while, in return, Western states would phase out sanctions that have severely damaged the gulf nation’s oil-dependent economy.
However, divergence still remains on key issues such as the size and scope of Iran’s nuclear program, particularly the number of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to operate, and the incentives Iran will get in return for its possible concessions. While a comprehensive deal failed to be reached on Monday, it was believed that the talks would not completely break down.
First, a breakdown is not in the interests of any party. A restart of the Iranian nuclear program will cause regional instability, and prolonged sanctions will worsen Iran’s economy given the ever declining oil prices.
Second, the Obama administration and the Iranian government led by moderate President Hassan Rouhani have tried to improve relations in the past year. It was expected that the nuclear talks would result in a “political agreement” on the Iranian nuclear issue instead of a comprehensive deal. In the past days, the US and Iran have been making joint efforts to reach such an agreement, which could focus on the consensus reached in the talks while making commitments to solving pending issues in the future.
There were hopes that if such an agreement could be reached, the efforts of the concerned parties in the nuclear talks would not be wasted, and the result might be accepted by the hawkish forces in the US and Iran. Such an agreement would also pave the way for the extension of the talks. Iran and Western powers have made progress on some thorny issues through diplomacy in the past year.
US chief nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman, under secretary of state for political affairs, said in October that “impressive progress” has been made during past talks on issues “that originally seemed intractable,” despite the fact that differences over the size and scope of Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity kept drawing more attention.
The latest media reports show that the Geneva talks have been extended again. As long as the talks continue, it is hopeful that the parties will find a way out. None of them are willing to take the consequences of failed talks. It is highly advisable that all parties in the Iranian nuclear talks adhere to consensus, close the rifts and resolve the key issues.
In this process, China can play a constructive role in the negotiations by promoting communications among the related parties, push for a comprehensive deal at an early date, and make its due contributions to safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East.
—Courtesy: GT [The author is a writer with the Xinhua News Agency. email@example.com]