Reprinted from Asia Times
VIENNA -- So today is not D-Day. No landing in post-Wall of Mistrust territory. A nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 won't be clinched today -- for a number of very complex reasons, way beyond the vicious media information war; not least finding the absolute, exact wording in every line of 85 pages of text.
It still amounts, for all the bluster and the dramatic turnarounds, to a question of trust. Rather, breaching the 36-year-plus Wall of Mistrust between Washington and Tehran.
There are breakthroughs, of course. On the status of the Fordo research site, for instance, for the first time both sides reached an agreement. Compare it to the cosmic gap -- exacerbated by the American wordplay -- on the gradual lifting of sanctions.
This is at the heart of the Viennese diplomatic waltz; what happens after the adoption of an agreement -- what some negotiators define as "operationalization." Only after the US Congress reviews the deal, "iron-clad guarantees" would be provided that sanctions will be lifted. That's the much-lauded but still hazy "phase three" -- when the whole US, EU and UN infrastructure of sanctions is supposed to vanish.
There's the rub -- as a top Iranian official told Asia Times: The main issue for Tehran is how to have complete assurance this complex process will be fully implemented.
What Tehran wants -- according to negotiation insiders -- is to "carry a parallel process"; while Iran fulfills all its nuclear restriction commitments, the US, especially, works to dismantle the "institutionalized process of sanctions." It's no secret Washington controls the whole framework. And the secret for a successful deal is that all these details should be explicit in writing.
Negotiation insiders tell Asia Times that on a technical level, in a maximum of three months all the necessary commitments will be fulfilled. Even something like changing the reactor in Arak, which is very costly.
So where's the big deal? Once again, it amounts to (mis)trust.
Watch the media centrifuges
The nuclear negotiations operate at three different levels -- two of them technical, below the Foreign Ministry level. If only we had a neo-Wittgenstein to deconstruct them.
This is all about the US and Iran. The other players are bystanders at most.
Picture Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif occasionally yelling at US Secretary of State John Kerry in the heat of the moment. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei actually stepped into the fray a while ago, warning Zarif to cool it.
The Russians are not as pro-active as they could be; it's as if they're betting on a winning Eurasian integration hand, deal or no deal. The Chinese say absolutely nothing; a starring passive role. The Germans are quite rational -- even equidistant. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is just a poseur; but his dramatic posturing is far from qualifying him as a neo-Talleyrand. He's incapable of adding anything of substance.
And then there are the famous red lines. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's were always very clear -- even to US negotiators. And these are not his own personal lines; they represent an Iranian consensus.