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Tarja Cronberg: "EU could save the negotiations by delaying sanctions to Iran"


Hope for an agreement between Iran and the P 5+1 negotiators regarding Iran's nuclear programme is waning away as the date for the next round of talks in Moscow scheduled for 18-19 June draws closer. According to Tarja Cronberg, MEP, chair of the European parliament 's Iran delegation, the tone is much harsher after Baghdad and the conflict is escalating on both sides. Cronberg proposes that EU postpone its sanctions against Iran to secure the continuation of the negotiations and to avoid a military strike.

- In order to avoid the worst case scenario and build trust between the parties, EU should delay for a period of six months its sanctions on oil and petroleum cargos. Currently these sanctions are scheduled to take effect on 1 July, she says.

- It is crucial for the Moscow meeting to achieve tangible results otherwise we might find ourselves in a situation of a military strike with unknown consequences for the region and for the world economy. In this case the Supreme Leader of Iran would blame the West for the failure of the negotiations and accelerate Iran's nuclear programme. Also the US might get involved in a conflict much opposed by its military. In the end, we might end up in the situation we want to avoid, namely having to deal with a nuclear Iran, Cronberg comments.

- The European Union is more flexible in relation to sanctions than the US Congress, where any change requires new legislation. Not lifting the sanctions but just delaying the start will not be interpreted as a sign of weakness but rather as a trust-building step. The 6-month extension would create a possibility to carry the negotiations into the period after the US presidential elections as well as provide time for the IAEA to work out the necessary verification measures. Here the EU can make a real difference, says Tarja Cronberg

Editorial note on the Baghdad talks

The Iranians had a 'step by step' vision for the agreement which they rolled up at the previous talks in Baghdad. Iran would give up the critical 20 % enrichment of uranium, demanded by the negotiating countries. Tehran would restrict the production to 3-5 %, the level corresponding to peaceful use such as nuclear energy. This is their right according to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, which not only restricts the military uses and proliferation of nuclear technology, but also promotes the peaceful applications of the same technology. The lack of transparency around the Iranian nuclear facilities gave doubts that Iran was indeed developing its nuclear program for peaceful purposes.

The P5+1 negotiators came to Bagdad with the goal to achieve a deal on the 20 % enrichment. Iran should not be allowed to enrich at all, a position known to be unacceptable by the Iranians. Not only zero enrichment but also the export of all 20 % enriched uranium out of the country and the closure of the Fordow plant were required. In return Iran would be getting technical assistance and some economic incentives. However the easing of the sanctions, the primary goal for the Iranians, was not on the table.

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