The tenth round of nuclear talks between Iran and the West has ended, and the results of this round are not very different than the results of previous rounds. Both sides complain of a lack of flexibility of the other side, with emphasis on the need to continue the talks in the future. The main question is what is the obstacle between Iran and the West that has not budged after ten rounds of talks? Why in a situation in which it appears that both sides are insisting on a resolution of the conflicts, are they unwilling to reach common ground to slightly mitigate the problems? To find a convincing answer to these questions, it is important to note two issues: sanctions and the interpretation of the right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. In other words, the strongest disputes relate to the meaning of these two issues between the parties and have prevented minimum agreements in the talks in the past. Furthermore, it does not seem likely that the talks will succeed in the future unless these disputes are eliminated. Jomhouri Eslami writes that the West and the 5+1 are applying economic sanctions against Iran while complying with the position that it itself is the main obstacle to moving towards an understanding. The boycotters in recent years, and particularly over the past two-and-a-half years, have always used sanctions to pressure Iran. This use differs from the use of sanctions against North Korea, since sanctions that were imposed on North Korea are an act of punishment, in other words, the boycotters do not expect to effect change in the behavior and policies of North Korea and are only enforcing sanctions to punish them. Sanctions againstIran, however, are designed to change the behavior and stances of the government and the people. The Supreme Leader, in his last speech inMashhad, discussed this goal, which is application of pressure on the regime by creating a rift between the people and the government. Those behind the sanctions probably believe that they must continue until their goals have been achieved. In other words, as long as the West does not see the Iranian people submit, it will continue in its own path. As a result, in the two rounds of talks in Almaty, although the Western parties stressed the continuation of talks, they did not agree to lift or reduce the sanctions. In contrast, the Iranian negotiating team did not accept the West’s demands. As such, removal of the obstacle in the talks requires that the West change its approach with regards to sanctions imposed on Iran. Only under these conditions can any progress be made in the talks.
Another point is the way both side interpret the right to nuclear energy. The Iranian side emphasizes that its membership in the NPT and the possibility of IAEA regulation over nuclear facilities means that Iran’s nuclear activity is for peaceful purposes. As such, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council is reiterating that the problem is not the percentage of uranium, but acceptance of Iran’s basic right to nuclear energy. The 5+1 nations have a fundamentally different interpretation of this legal right. They do not view membership in the NPT and regulation by inspectors as sufficient elements to prove the peaceful purposes of Iran’s nuclear activity and impose additional demands, leading to disputes and talks that end without progress. In this regard as well, Western countries must abandon their strict interpretation regarding membership in the NPT and submit to the standard procedure. It appears that the formulation of a uniform interpretation of the right to nuclear activity and amendment of the method that uses sanctions against Iran to pressure the regime by creating public dissatisfaction, are measures that are key to breaking the impasse in the nuclear talks. This is an optimistic perspective. Another perspective is that the West, and particularly the US, is behaving with duplicity in their nuclear policies. A prime example of this is that they allow the Zionist regime (Israel) to possess hundreds of atomic warheads in the heart of the sensitive region of the Middle East, while prohibiting Iran from their legal right to use nuclear activity for peaceful purposes! With this kind of two-faced policy, the West cannot be trusted.