The US and Russian presidents after bringing all their weight to bear on Tehran have failed to gain an inch toward a possible deal at the resumed nuclear talks in Geneva Wednesday Nov. 20, after being blocked by hardliners at the Iranian end. Tuesday, Kayhan, the mouthpiece of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards, ran an article telling Foreign Minister Javad Zarif he should not go to Geneva at all.
debkafile’s Iranian sources reveal the red lines with which the Iranian delegation to the talks has been armed for accepting an interim deal with the six powers on their nuclear program:
1) Iran will not shut down its underground enrichment plant at Fordo.
2) Work on building the Arak heavy water reactor will not be halted.
3) Iran will not allow the export of a single gram of its enriched uranium from the country.
4) Iran will not sign the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which expands international supervision of its nuclear program and permits snap inspections.
That the radicals are calling the shots in Tehran was obvious to every Iranian from the large blow-ups of the intransigent ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad adorning Tehran newspapers in the last couple of days. President Hassan Rouhani may be elected president, but his campaign of smiles to the West has been superseded by the radical nuclear line espoused by the man he defeated at the polls. Ahmadinejad is riding high again in Tehran.
Zarif has admitted that his life may be forfeit if he dares make concessions to the West. Still, he is likely to take his seat at the resumed Geneva conference Wednesday, even though the fourtough directives tie him hand and foot. Therefore, unless Tehran is suddenly persuaded to moderate its position, this conference has nowhere to go.
Given the political balance in Tehran – which debkafile began covering in exclusive reports Monday – it is hard to see a deal coming out of Geneva, unless President Barack Obama accepts the four Iranian noes and gives the radical rulers of the Islamic Republic a major success.
US Secretary of State John Kerry therefore sees no point in visiting Israel Friday as he planned. It might be a bit much for him to turn up empty-handed insofar as a nuclear deal with Iran is concerned, and also watch his second major effort, the peace track with the Palestinians, floundering between flops.
debkafile note the strange paradox of two leaders, Ayatollah Khamenei and Prime Minister Netanyahu, who are implacable adversaries in all else, maneuvering with all their might for the same object of taking the wind out of the sails of a potential nuclear deal between the six powers and Iran.
Khamenei is confident he can bring President Obama to heel and force him to live with key elements of Iran’s nuclear bomb program. Israel wants that program brought a lot closer to its dismantlement by tougher sanctions. He is seconded in this demand by France in public statements by its president Francois Hollande, and Saudi Arabia, which prefers not to admit to supporting the Israeli campaign.
Early Tuesday, the heavyweights of Washington and Moscow went into action for a last-ditch bid to tip the scales back in favor of the deal.
President Obama appealed in person to US senators to postpone legislation for tougher sanctions against Iran. They are expected to agree to put off the bipartisan initiative until next month.
President Putin was on the phone to Rouhani, after which the Kremlin announced, “There is a real chance for a nuclear deal.”
Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov talked by phone and then, each according to his style, berated Netanyahu.
The US Secretary said: “I have great respect for Netanyahu’s concerns about his country.” He has “every right” to state his opposition to a potential nuclear deal with Iran and defend what “he perceives” is in Israel’s interests. But, he aloso assured “Netanyahu, ordinary Israelis and pro-Israel members of Congress who are opposed to the proposed agreement” that "Nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk. In fact, let me make this clear, we believe it reduces risk."
Without mentioning Israel or Netanyahu, Lavrov rejected their assessment that the deal on the table would leave Iran with the capacity to assemble a nuclear weapon within 26 days as “far from reality.” He then criticized those who cast doubt on the intelligence and integrity of the parties conducting negotiations with Iran.
This rebuff came shortly before Netanyahu was due to land in Moscow Wednesday, Nov. 20, for talks with
the Russian president and may have been intended to set a stiff tone for those talks.
The contest between the White House and Kremlin over who can beat the Israeli prime minister more effectively may be convenient for venting their frustration over the Iranian leader’s ability to elude any direct attempts to force him into line, or even reach him. They find themselves beating their heads against a blank wall while the radical front, which rejects any reasonable nuclear deal with the West, gains the upper hand in Tehran.