The Iranian negotiators arrived in Geneva today armed with inflexible positions verging on all-or-nothing for the talks with the six powers in Geneva on their country’s nuclear program.
The most important step for an accord, said Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, was for the powers to accept the Supreme Leader’s 2006 fatwa banning the development of nuclear weapons.
DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources note that although President Barack Obama cited this “fatwa,’ it was issued as a propaganda ploy with no binding religious value. The Iranian tactic is to use this “edict” to force the six powers (five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) to bow to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s authority and accord him equal status as the leader of a world power.
The Iranian team started the two-day meeting with a PowerPoint presentation, but then said the details of the proposals presented were “confidential.”
The other delegations agreed to this, although to say they were disappointed is an understatement. They were bowled over by the four Iranian stipulations:
1. The world powers must accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium without limitations. All the enrichment sites at Fordo and Natanz and the Arak heavy water plant under construction for plutonium production will remain in place.
2. All sanctions on the Iranian economy whether imposed by the UN Security Council, the US or Europe must be removed at once.
3. Iran guarantees to provide transparency and accept the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but rejects snap inspections.
4. Khamenei’s “fatwa” is the first step towards an agreement with the world powers.
At the end of the first day of talks, EU foreign policy executive Catherine Ashton, who chairs the Geneva conference, took the Iranian negotiator Araghchi aside and told him to bring to the table more serious proposals.
Up until Tuesday night, the Obama administration had not relayed a single word on the Geneva proceedings to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was waiting in Jerusalem for a promised update.
His response to Iran’s arrogant intransigence at the Geneva talks and the fact that he was kept in the dark was not long in coming.
Addressing a Knesset session marking the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur war, Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister said: One lesson Israel learned from the Yom Kippur war was “never disallow the option of a preemptive strike a priori.” While this option may not meet all situations, it deserves careful and earnest consideration.
Netanyahu went on to say: The potential international reaction to such an attack is of less consequence than the price in blood Israel is apt to pay from a future “strategic blow” and the necessity to hit back.