Make it or Break it

TEHERAN/WASHINGTON/BERLIN | | iran

TEHERAN/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin is pushing for a rapid conclusion to the Iran nuclear program negotiations. The talks must absolutely be successfully concluded by the November 24 deadline, insist leading German foreign policy-makers along with the German Foreign Minister personally. This is ´"technically" feasible; it must be resolutely pursued politically. Further postponement would be counterproductive. Berlin has achieved a prominent position within the framework of the negotiations and is using this to play a more powerful role in global policy-making. A form of renewed cooperation with Iran, along the lines of "transformation through convergence" strategy, which had been used against the Soviet Union, is considered a probable result of these negotiations. Test runs for this sort of cooperation have long since been made - in the war against the Islamic State (IS), with US bombers serving as the air force of Iranian commanded militias. US President Barack Obama has suggested the possibility of an expansion of this sort of cooperation.

No Postponement

Berlin is pushing for a rapid conclusion of the Iran nuclear program negotiations. Originally, the talks aimed at scaling down Iran's nuclear program to a minimum had been scheduled to be completed in the summer; however, they were prolonged until November 24. Theoretically, they could be prolonged again. Just last week, Chair of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, Norbert Röttgen, along with six other prominent foreign policy-makers of major EU nations called for "the conclusion of a comprehensive nuclear agreement before the set deadline." Another postponement of the talks "would only play into the hands of those who are opposed to a diplomatic solution and therefore to the negotiation process."[1] Immediately thereafter, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs personally appealed for the conclusion of the negotiations by next week. "That is a make it or break it moment, we are now confronting," explained Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum November 11. "We will not have a situation like this anytime soon." A "postponement" would "not produce the solution, not in the next two years."

Technically Feasible

As Röttgen and his European foreign policy-making colleagues explain in their open letter, "creative and technically feasible propositions have been found," providing the opportunity for the negotiations to conclude in a treaty on Iran's nuclear program. A treaty to this effect will "accept Iran's interests and legitimate claim to the further development of this technology,"[2] while prohibiting the construction of nuclear weapons, explains the open letter. "The misgivings," regarding the "proliferation danger" can be cleared up. Obviously, one element of the nuclear deal is an agreement Teheran reached with Moscow last Tuesday, according to which, Russian companies will initially build two, then another six new nuclear reactors in Iran. They will function on fuel provided by Russia, which will then be returned to Russia when they are depleted. This procedure will be under the total surveillance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"An Accomplishment of German Diplomacy"

The German government is pushing that much harder for a successful conclusion to the negotiations, because, within the framework of these talks, it has successfully reinforced for itself a prominent role in global policy-making. Germany had not only participated on a par, as the sixth nation, with the five members of the UN Security Council. A top German diplomat, Helga Schmid, also participated in the discussions for the EU. As EU Foreign Policy Representative Catherine Ashton's deputy, Schmid had been in charge of the contacts with Teheran.[3] Other instruments of German foreign policy were also relevantly involved. For example, in June 2014 the Körber Foundation in Hamburg helped expedite the process with a conference in Teheran with highly prominent guests, including the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs and top officials from the establishment in Berlin.[4] That a solution to the nuclear conflict is now looming, is "an accomplishment of German and European diplomacy," explained Behrooz Abdolvand, an associate fellow of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) and an expert on Iran, last September. "The European Union's and Germany's diplomacy have served as a catalyzer for the negotiations between Iran and the USA." The "development of the dialog" and "the provisional agreements signed up to now," are "accomplishments of German and European diplomacy."[5]

Transformation through Convergence

Berlin's influential role in the negotiations is also important, because of the current wide-ranging discussion on restructuring western policy toward the Middle East. This discussion was provoked by the failed western attempts to subdue Iran with drastic economic sanctions and waging war against its main regional allies - the Assad government in Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Already years ago, the strategy pursued along the lines of "transformation through convergence" was considered as an alternative. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) Christoph Bertram, former director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), formulated the strategy as follows: "We have to initiate discussions with Iran on a wide range of subjects," Bertram proposed in the Spring of 2008. "We should keep in mind the successful model used by the West in relationship to the Soviet Union - which, by the way, was a much more dangerous adversary."[7] The "transformation through convergence" policy toward the Soviet Union was aimed at vanquishing the Soviet Union, not by means of open aggression, but rather with the use of economic cooperation. They were successful.

Concerted War

Test runs for closer cooperation with Iran have long since been initiated - in the war against the Islamic State (IS). Back in August, observers noted that, as militias commanded by Iranians drove the IS out of the Iraqi city Amerli, they were provided air support - from US fighter-bombers. Whereas Washington officially denies any military cooperation with Teheran, there are a growing number of indications of an - at least indirect - coordination of operations against the IS. In a recently leaked letter from US President Barack Obama to Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, Obama is said to have proposed an expansion of cooperation in the concerted war against IS. For this, a successful conclusion to the nuclear negotiations is essential. "U.S. firepower alone can't defeat the Islamic State," says the current issue of the influential "Foreign Policy" Magazine. Washington "needs to work with Iran, whether it likes it or not."[8] An indication that there is at least informal cooperation with Teheran is the fact that aerial attacks in Syria have so far been coordinated with Damascus. This is helpful in the war against IS. However, the "transformation through convergence" strategy does not exclude future aggression against Syria or even Iran.

Other reports and background information on Germany's policy toward Iran can be found here: Lever for Destabilization, Traditional Role, Containment Course, Equilibrium rather than Exclusion, The Persian Pipeline, Anticipating a Coup, Lever for Destabilization (III), Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf, The Role of Propaganda, War Threats against Iran, War Threats against Iran (II), End in a Slaughter, The Next Round and The Most Important Country in the EU.

[1], [2] Javier Solana, Carl Bildt, Emma Bonino, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Ana Palacio, Norbert Röttgen, Robert Cooper: Eine so gute Gelegenheit kommt nie wieder. www.tagesspiegel.de 10.11.2014.
[3] See The Most Important Country in the EU.
[4] See Gesprächskreis in Teheran.
[5] Anne Allmeling: Deutschland spielt Schlüsselrolle bei Atomverhandlungen mit Iran. www.dw.de 17.09.2014.
[6] See Equilibrium Rather than Exclusion and Potenzial zum Partner.
[7] "Sanktionen bringen nichts"; Der Spiegel 14.04.2008. See Traditional Role.
[8] Emad Kiyaei: America's Last Best Hope for Defeating the Islamic State Is... Iran? www.foreignpolicy.com 11.11.2014.