Lend me your ears, Netanyahu says as Iran's nuclear deal looms

At the most sensitive and crucial moment of Iran’s nuclear talks with Western powers, any distraction could prove critical

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

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At the most sensitive and crucial moment of Iran’s nuclear talks with Western powers, any distraction could prove critical. Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani set the goal of improving foreign diplomacy and removing sanctions on the country. A year has passed and it is time to see if Rowhani’s policy has borne any fruit.

The next round of Iranian nuclear talks is set for July 2- 20 and the P5+1 team will meet the Iranian negotiating team for the last time until the interim agreement expires. They must come to a final agreement or extend the deadline.

This past year, Iran has done its best to avoid controversy and avoid harming the nuclear talks

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

This past year, Iran has done its best to avoid controversy and avoid harming the nuclear talks. In a rare occurrence, Iran’s many governmental organizations have been supporting Iran’s nuclear talks.

The six month interim deal with Western powers is set to expire on July 20 and it is extendable for another six months, only if there is a deal in sight.

Israeli worries

While Iranians see themselves as close to reaching a permanent agreement, the Israeli government, who are against the deal, are doing their best to trouble the talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged international negotiators on Sunday not to “surrender” to Tehran, three weeks before the nuclear deal’s deadline. Also on Sunday, a day before the nuclear talks began in Vienna, an Israeli delegation of intelligence and nuclear experts and national security advisors arrived in Washington to talk.

The urgent Israeli delegation’s meeting with their U.S. counterparts gives the sense that a deal is looming. Still, Israel has three weeks to use all the tricks in the book to prevent the deal by trying to prove that Iran lies about its nuclear program. But all that angry Netanyahu has done so far is portrayed himself as an angry man who cannot understand that the times have changed and the U.S. has different goals.

Netanyahu spoke to Sky News, asking what it would mean if Iran could kick aside inspectors and rush to make enriched uranium at any time.

Arms embargo

While there are no open ears willing to hear Netanyahu out, there are those at the United Nations Security Council willing to listen about Iran’s violation of the U.N. arms embargo on Tehran.

According to a confidential report obtained by Reuters on Friday, a U.N. expert panel has concluded that a shipment of rockets and other weapons seized by Israel last March in Red Sea came from Iran.

Israel publicly claimed that the seized arms were destined for Gaza, an allegation which was dismissed by Hamas and called a fabrication. Iran also denied having any involvement.

The permanent nuclear deal would lift international sanctions on Iran, which includes the arms embargo in exchange for Iran limiting its controversial nuclear activities. This new allegation by the U.N. investigators related to the seized weapons cargo can hurt the nuclear talks.

Last week Russia’s ambassador at the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, complained that, “any information not backed up by concrete facts could have a negative impact on the conduct of negotiations of the group of six and Iran.” A reference to the current arms shipment report provided by the U.N. experts.

While the other members of the U.N. sanctions committee believe in Iran’s regular illicit methods of circumventing sanctions, they also reportedly believe that Tehran’s illicit program has slowed during its negations with the six powers.

It is not only illicit programs and circumventing the sanctions that have slowed, but also the verbal battle between Israel and Iran.

Iran has been biting its lip to hold itself from responding to Netanyahu’s provocation.

Iranian officials and the six powers’ negotiators say they are hoping to meet the deadline on July 20. If Iran holds itself for another three weeks, perhaps the best answer negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif can send to his Twitter followers will be “Mazel tov!”


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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