The Sunday opinion pages were filled with widely divergent views on the proposed “framework” agreement announced between the P5+1 group of nations and the Iran regime; ranging from cautious optimism to vehement denunciation. Oddly, the range of opinions detailed specific points allegedly within the announced framework, but were wildly different and contrasting.
It almost appeared that two agreements came out of Lausanne, Switzerland and in fact two agreements did emerge which is why members of Congress are condemning it on one hand and the regime is busy organizing street rallies for the cameras to make it look like celebrations in the streets of Tehran.
The New York Times’ Michael Gordon writes over the weekend that negotiators emerged with a surprisingly detailed outline of the agreement, “but one problem is that there are two versions.”
The only joint document issued publicly was a statement from the regime’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign policy chief, which was an underwhelming seven paragraphs long. It contained a dozen so-called “parameters” meant to guide the next three months of talks.
Both the U.S. and Iran regime delegations released more detailed statements on the agreement which showed striking differences from both sides, betraying the lack of uniform consensus negotiators and the regime sought to portray publicly.
Of special note where differences in the expectations of how quickly economic sanctions would be lifted, as well as no descriptions on the type of research the regime will be allowed to undertake on centrifuges during the next 10 years of the proposed agreement; a pretty significant omission which has already killed three prior rounds of talks.
Other differences between the American and Iranian versions include an American contention that Iran had agreed to shrink its stockpile of uranium to 300 kilograms, but does not appear in the Iranian regime version.
The regime version includes a claim of nuclear cooperation between the regime and the six world powers to build nuclear power plants, research reactors and medical isotopes, a claim not even mentioned in the American statement. The American version says the regime would be able to conduct “limited” centrifuge research over the next 10 years, but the regime version removes the word “limited.”
The biggest difference is the speed at which economic sanctions will be lifted. The regime text calls for “immediately” lifting sanctions when the agreement is implemented while the American version describes a step-by-step process.
The fact that Zarif took to Twitter after both sides statements were issued and he dismissed the American framing of the outstanding issues as mere “spin” accurately portray the unspoken truth about this agreement, which is there is in fact no agreement at all. Zarif pounded that fact further when appeared on Iranian state television complaining to Secretary of State John Kerry that the American statement contradicted what was agreed to both sides.
With agreements like this, you’d hate to see what would happen if they actually disagreed with each other publicly.
There has been much speculation that these regime denunciations are designed to provide political cover for mullah’s President Hassan Rouhani as a hedge against so-called “hardliners” in the government, which is another fabrication since all power and authority over foreign policy agreements and treaties vests wholly and solely in the regime’s top mullah, Ali Khamenei.
Thereby rests the truth of what came out of Lausanne. While the regime and its lobbyists, such as Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, have been busy attempting to portray this as a historic milestone, they remain deathly agreed of more analysis by news media such as the one done by Gordon. If he can pierce the charade of these talks so quickly, what does that portend for the future of this “framework?”
It will likely end up on the trash heap of history as the three previous joint statements issued promising agreement on the broad outlines with only “technical” details to be worked out. In each case, a final agreement failed because the regime does not want anything detailed or specific put on paper.
The mullahs also want to retain all its’ nuclear infrastructure, but most importantly, they want economic sanctions lifted because the hammer blows on the economy caused by falling oil prices and heavy costs related to their funding of four separate proxy wars now in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are pushing the regime to the brink of collapse.
Unless the regime can pull the wool over the world’s eyes and convince everyone this is indeed a deal, then it risks failing again and for the mullahs, the stakes might mean their survival.
By Laura Carnahan