Nuclear talks open with Iran and three unattainable US pledges to Israel re Fordo, Arak, enrichment

The second round of talks between the six powers and Iran – this time for a final, comprehensive resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program – opened in Geneva Tuesday, Feb. 18. But first, the Obama administration gave the Israeli government three pledges, debkafile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources reveal. It must be said, however, that none of those pledges is realistic.

One was a commitment to insist on the absolute shutdown of Iran’s underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordo. The second was the conversion of the reactor under construction at Arak from a heavy to a light water plant, in order to preclude the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons; and the third, to place a cap on the low-grade 5-percent enrichment of uranium.

In view of the long list of rebuffs the six-power negotiators (US, Russia, UK, France, China and Germany) expect from Iran, an aura of gloom enveloped both sides Tuesday as the talks got underway.  Western sources called them a “daunting challenge,” while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented: “I have said before… I am not optimistic about the negotiations. It will not lead anywhere, but I am not opposed either.”

debkafile sees the Sherman comment as giving away Washington’s negotiating tactics with Tehran: The intention is to drag out a final resolution of this irreconcilable issue along the two years remaining of President Barack Obama’s term in office, i.e. up to 2016, and land the decision on how to handle it in the lap of his successor in the White House.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has walked in step with Obama on the Iranian nuclear issue since the fall of 2012, when he turned away from his earlier determination to destroy Iran’s nuclear bomb capacity by military force. And of late, he no longer demands the total dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear capability either.

When Netanyahu sits down with Obama at the White House on March 3, he will likely be reduced to calling for a ceiling on the number of operational centrifuges allowed Iran, as a last-ditch effort to delay Iran’s nuclear weapons drive. But both are obviously reconciled to Iran’s rejection of any limitations on its military nuclear capacity, along with the inability of any Western power to impose its will on the Islamic Republic.

Full article: Nuclear talks open with Iran and three unattainable US pledges to Israel re Fordo, Arak, enrichment (DEBKAfile)

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