Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Friday night, Jan. 10: “We found solutions for all the points of disagreement,” after two days of nuclear talks with the five powers in Geneva. He added that implementation now depends on “final ratification of the negotiating delegations in their respective capitals for final agreement. “
The EU spokesperson, speaking for the six powers was more ambivalent. He praised “very good progress on all pertinent issues. This is now under validation at the political level in capitals.”
The Americans and Europeans were evidently not satisfied, but determined at all costs to avoid putting up Iranian backs by saying so. And so the world and the Iranian public were allowed to believe that the West had finally accepted Tehran’s presentation of its nuclear program as solely peaceful.
This play on words provided a semantic screen for concealing the major shift in the negotiating balance: This time, the Iranian team arrived in Geneva without the authority to finalize any of the points at issue.
They labored under a clear directive from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to refer all decisions back to a higher authority set up in Tehran for granting prior approval before any decisions go into effect. This authority represents the government administration, the legislature and the judiciary
By handing down this directive, Khamenei gained a strong negotiating edge against the world powers:
1. A double-strength ratification level in Tehran weakened the hand of the world powers and the US in determining the shape of the nascent nuclear accord and gave him the last word. American, Russian, French, British and Chinese leaders were forced into the position of having to wait for his by-your-leave before moving forward.
2. To overcome the domestic squabbling at the top of the Iranian regime over the pros and cons of the interim nuclear deal, Khamenei handed the hard-liners led by the Revolutionary Guards the right to veto the decisions reached by President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
The Iranian leader drew the confidence for running another circle around the six powers from the negotiations in progress with Russia for an oil-for-goods transaction worth $1.5 billion a month, that would substantially help lift Iran’s oil exports out of range of Western sanctions.
Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a transaction that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.
"Good progress is being made at the moment with strong chances of success," said a Russian source.
An Iranian source said: "Our officials are discussing the matter with the Russians and hopefully it will be inked soon, regardless of whether we can reach a (nuclear) agreement in Geneva."
debkafile: By this action, President Vladimir Putin has not only pulled the teeth out of sanctions, by which President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu set such store for forcing the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapon aspirations. He has strengthened Tehran’s hand against going through with the concessions, such as a six-month nuclear freeze, that were provided for in the Geneva interim accord as the basis for further negotiations on a final agreement.
Neither the US State Department nor the EU has so far responded by a single word on Putin’s death stroke to nuclear diplomacy with Iran.
What emerges six months after the US-Russian accord for the elimination of Bashar Assad’s chemical stockpiles, and two months after the six-power interim nuclear accord with Iran, is the process of America pulling up its stakes in the Middle East and clearing the way for the Russians to move in and take its place.
Iran comes out of these steps well armored with Russian economic and strategic backing, while Israel is left on the minus side of the new regional equation unfolding fast in the New Year.