Mon Feb 9, 2015 12:29AM
US Secretary of State John Kerry is not in a position to dictate terms and conditions to Iran for nuclear negotiations, a scholar of international relations in New York says.
Professor James Petras, who has written dozens of books on the Latin America and Middle East, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Sunday while commenting on Kerry’s latest “ultimatum” to Iran.
In an interview broadcast on Sunday, the US secretary of state said it would be “impossible” to work out another extension of nuclear negotiations with Iran if an agreement on fundamental principles is not reached in upcoming weeks.
“I think the question really is whether the US has shown any flexibility on Iranian enrichment,” Professor Petras said. “I don’t think Mr. Kerry is in a position to set the terms of the agreement unless the US is willing to recognize equality with Iran as a negotiating partner.”
“I don’t think the secretary of state can set a time limit and a framework and expect Iran to sign it,” he added.
“I think he has to negotiate in good faith, recognizing certain boundaries that Iran has set regarding its nuclear program, regarding its conditions under which it’s facing threats from Israel, and other nuclear powers,” he noted.
Iran and the P5+1 group – the US, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – are in talks to narrow their differences and pave the way for a final, long-term agreement over Iran’s nuclear energy program.
Iran and the six powers failed to reach a final agreement by a November 24 deadline despite making some progress. However, the two sides agreed to extend their discussions for seven more months until July 1, 2015.
“I think the question really is whether Secretary of State Kerry has shown sufficient flexibility and willingness to accommodate some kind of a meaningful nuclear energy program for Iran. I think that’s the key question,” Professor Petras said.
“If indeed Washington has shown flexibility, then we can envision the establishment of certain boundaries, parameters, framework within which an agreement can be fashioned,” he said.
“But if it’s an open-ended question whether Iran will continue with scientific research and development of nuclear energy and peaceful nuclear usage, if that’s called into question, then Kerry is engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy; he’s setting terms under which an agreement will never be reached, and simply setting date and time is meaningless,” he further said.
“So the question really revolves around, is the US showing flexibility, is Secretary of State Kerry willing to go halfway with Iran toward recognizing a meaningful, peaceful program? If that’s the case – and this is recognized by Iran – then I think Kerry’s statement is meaningful,” he pointed out.
“But if indeed this is another ultimatum that Iran either has to accept the US terms and the US framework otherwise they can terminate negotiations, then I think this is a very unacceptable and unhelpful position,” Professor Petras concluded