Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told CBS News this weekend that Iran is willing to restart implementation talks revolving around the recently announced Geneva interim agreement.
“We are committed to the plan of action and the implementation of Geneva – but we believe it takes two to tango,” Zarif said. “The process has been derailed, the process has not died,” he added later. “We are trying to put it back and to correct the path, and continue the negotiations because I believe there is a lot at stake for everybody.”
Analysts who assessed that the Iranians need the financial relief provided by Geneva – and are bluffing when they threaten to walk away from the so-called Joint Plan of Action (JPA) – will be better positioned to suggest they were largely correct. Iranian negotiators had abruptly halted talks after the Treasury Department last week announced new enforcement measures against entitled in violation of still-existing sanctions against Iran, asserting that the move violated the “spirit” of the JPA. It is not clear why the Iranians believed that gestures toward the spirit of the JPA would have diplomatic of public purchase, inasmuch as Tehran has in recent weeks committed to enriching uranium, bolstering its plutonium production complex, and testing ballistic missiles – all actions which it insists are permitted under the letter of the JPA. There have been suggestions that the Iranians may be attempting to brush back future Congressional legislation which would impose sanctions after the JPA’s six-month interim window should no deal materialize. Such language does not seem to violate the JPA’s prohibition on new sanctions taking effect during the interim period, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said over the weekend that the Senate is “very likely” to approve new financial pressure on Iran that Politico describes as taking effect “in about six months if there are no more breakthroughs in negotiations.’
“He [John Kerry] thinks that the agreement states that basically the Iranians maintain the right to enrich. I don’t think that that should be the case after their lying and cheating and concealing for all of these years,” McCain said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The centrifuges keep spinning, the — there can still be quote, construction around the facility at Arak. So we are now pausing when they are continuing — we’re easing sanctions while they’re continuing a lot of their activities.”
[Photo: CBS Evening News / YouTube]