With time ticking for the resumption of talks between Iran and an international group of mediators, the United States and Israel continue to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.
April 14 will see a fresh round of talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 countries, including permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany. There had been a dispute as to whether the venue for the talks should be Istanbul or Baghdad. At the end of the day, a decision was made to hold the negotiations in Istanbul, where the sides should certainly do their best to arrive at a political consensus, our commentator says.
Meanwhile, pressure on Tehran shows no signs of abating. In late March, Washington announced the idea of creating a missile defense shield within the six Persian Gulf Cooperation Council States. On Monday, the US Navy said that it has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region amid rising tensions with Iran over its nuclear program. Earlier this year, the EU said that it would impose an oil embargo on Iran as of July 1 if the Islamic Republic did not sit down at the negotiating table. Israel has, in turn, repeatedly signaled its readiness to launch a preemptive air strike on Iran if it does not abandon its nuclear program. In an interview with CNN aired earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak elaborated on Tel Aviv’s top-priority demands to Iran.
Russia is understandably concerned over the planned creation of a missile defense system in the Gulf – something that Moscow sees as a sensitive issue given its frustration about the European missile shield which is allegedly aimed at fending off a potential missile threat from Iran. Moscow, however, wants legally binding guarantees that this shield is not directed against Russia.
As far as the impending talks in Istanbul are concerned, any special breakthroughs there are unlikely, our commentator says. The main thing, he concludes, is that a negotiation process has been put in motion after a protracted pause – something that can be considered a breakthrough, in a way.
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