Iranian nuclear talks 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Exactly 10 years ago, on October 21, 2003, the so-called Troika of the European
Union (the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany: Jack Straw,
Dominique de Villepin, Joschka Fischer) together with the leaders of Iran issued
the “Tehran Declaration.” Tehran promised to open the gates of its nuclear
installations and the Europeans promised to assist Iran in developing the
peaceful use of nuclear power. It was a breakthrough of historical dimensions,
The declaration was welcomed as a victory of “soft
power,” a European specialty prepared in the kitchens of pacifist thought, over
America’s “hard power,” as served by George W. Bush. It was clear that refined
and soft-spoken diplomats could achieve what rough American threats could not:
reason with the mullahs and diminish their worries over western
The Troika started talking to Tehran only in August of 2003,
and The New York Times wrote on October 22: “The agreement on Tuesday came
swiftly, apparently enjoying the support of conservatives as well as reformers
in Iran’s divided leadership.”
French press agency AFP quoted the
self-assured members of the Troika: “The British, French and German foreign
ministers hailed Iran’s agreement here Tuesday to open up its suspect nuclear
programme, with Germany’s Joschka Fischer saying the accord would ‘stabilize the
region. [...]This is an important day. [...]We can move forward in a serious
dialogue.’ “British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the deal was ‘an important
step forward,’ and France’s Dominique de Villepin said it was an ‘important step
in Iran’s commitment to the struggle against proliferation.’” The Tehran
Declaration was a great document.
Paragraph 2 (a) was an especially fine
piece of work: “The Iranian Government has decided to engage in full cooperation
with the IAEA to address and resolve, through full transparency, all
requirements and outstanding issues of the Agency, and clarify and correct any
possible failures and deficiencies within the IAEA.”
What did Iran get in
return for its cooperation with the IAEA? The following: “The three Governments
believe that this will open the way to a dialogue on a basis for longer term
cooperation, which will provide all parties with satisfactory assurances
relating to Iran’s nuclear power generation programme. Once international
concerns, including those of the three Governments, are fully resolved, Iran
could expect easier access to modern technology and supplies in a range of
And there was more the Troika promised the mullahs: “They will
co- operate with Iran to promote security and stability in the region, including
the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle
East in accordance with the objectives of the United Nations.”
words, the Troika would take care of the Israelis.
What a document. There
it was, black on white.
ITS TRUE value was the
piece of paper it was printed on. The Troika – three smart men with enormous
political experience – knew it.
Nevertheless, they proceeded as if it was
enough to have created an illusion. They set aside everything the knew about the
mullahs and played along.
It was delusional, on purpose. They knew the
only thing the mullahs wanted was to buy time, not an agreement. The mullahs
knew the Troika knew the declaration was bogus, but with western leaders like
these the mullahs could easily continue playing out this theater of the absurd.
Pretend, cheat, lie, smile, withdraw, consult, return, pretend, cheat, lie – and
so forth. Not a single word of the declaration was executed.
guys knew it was make-believe, but didn’t care. On the contrary, they were
convinced that playing along with the mullahs was in their own interest. They
were career politicians, not statesmen contemplating the values of liberty and
integrity or weighing them against the criminal schemes of Islamist extremists.
As much as the mullahs were, the Troika guys were playing for time.
their return to their respective capitols, they were welcomed by the media as
What did British newspaper The Guardian write exactly 10
years ago? “Three European foreign ministers claimed a diplomatic coup
yesterday, securing an agreement from Iran over its nuclear programme which
could defuse a brewing crisis with the US.”
But the mullahs lied, the
Troika lied, the media lied.
The leader of the Iranian delegation with
whom the Troika “claimed a diplomatic coup” (George Bush, take that), was “tough
but fair to deal with,” Jack Straw recently said.
The name of that
negotiator? Hassan Rohani.
The author is a novelist and political