'Diplomacy Not War': Experts Say Still Hope for Iran Talks

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Common Dreams

'Diplomacy Not War': Experts Say Still Hope for Iran Talks

Diplomacy advocates say talks not over as high-stakes negotiations close with progress but no deal

by
Sarah Lazare, staff writer

After three days of high-stakes negotiations over Iran's nuclear program concluded in Geneva on Sunday with no deal reached but plans for further talks, experts say they are still hopeful that a diplomatic solution can avert war.

"The talks haven't failed," said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, in an interview with Common Dreams. "There is another round next week. The talks just haven't been completed yet."

While the content of the negotiations has largely remained secret, a U.S. official told journalists that the proposal considered in Geneva called for Iran to temporarily halt aspects of its alleged nuclear program in exchange for a slight easing of sanctions—measures allegedly aimed at buying time for further talks.

There is no evidence proving Iran has a nuclear weapons program, which many say does not exist.

France, which possesses a large stash of nuclear weapons, ultimately rejected the proposal on the grounds it did not do enough to stop Iran's uranium enrichment or plutonium production.

While the talks did not end in an agreement, the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany agreed to resume negotiations with Iran on November 20.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fiercely campaigned against the talks, which he says he "utterly rejects." Israel, which also possesses nuclear weapons, still has not signed the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, unlike Iran.

Hardline opposition to the talks also comes from within the U.S. government, including vocal members of the Democratic party.

In a recent interview with Democracy Now!, Noam Chomsky emphasized that global inequalities underlie this targeting of Iran. "The United States and Israel, two major nuclear powers—I mean, one a superpower, the other a regional superpower—are constantly threatening Iran with attack, threatening Iran with attack every day," he said. "Again, that’s a violation of the U.N. Charter, which bans the threat or use of force, but the U.S. is self-immunized from international law, and its clients inherit that right. So Iran is under constant threat."

Many say that the current talks, while far from ideal, offer an important alternative to a potentially catastrophic military conflict.

"The important thing is that they are talking," said Middle East scholar Stephen Zunes in an interview with Common Dreams. "The disappointing thing on the U.S. side is that the hardliners include democrats, like Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Menendez."

"Hardliners are going to go to Congress and say diplomacy is not working, diplomacy is over," said Naiman. "But the talks are still happening."

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