Iran could be offered a one-time cash payment from its frozen oil revenues as part of a plan reportedly being explored to give the Islamic Republic some immediate relief from crippling economic sanctions.
The money would come in exchange for a complete halting of Iran’s nuclear program while negotiations with Western powers continue, reported the London Times.
Representatives of the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, are scheduled to kick off a second round of negotiations with Iranian officials in Geneva on Thursday.
Robert Einhorn, former special adviser on nonproliferation to Hillary Clinton, told the London Times that the idea of giving the cash to Tehran could be seen as a “one-time effort at providing some benefit to Iran while leaving the architecture of the sanctions regime in place.”
Einhorn, now a fellow at the powerful DC-based Brookings Institute, said that US Treasury officials had participated in preliminary talks with the Iranians last week in Vienna.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned against any type of sanctions relief before Iran completely abandons uranium enrichment, a position that the Islamic Republic has so far rejected outright.
Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, and Netanyahu has vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring nukes, unilaterally if necessary.
The Israeli threat of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities has played a major role in bringing the Islamic Republic to the negotiating table, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reportedly said Monday.
“It’s true that sanctions — not just US sanctions but UN sanctions, multilateral sanctions — have done tremendous economic damage,” Hagel said in an interview with Bloomberg journalist and pundit Jeffrey Goldberg. “Even many of Iran’s leaders have acknowledged that. And I think that Iran is responding to the constant pressure from Israel, knowing that Israel believes them to be an existential threat. I think all of this, combined, probably brought the Iranians to where we are today.”
“I think Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu is legitimately concerned, as any prime minister of Israel has been, about the future security needs of their country,” said Hagel.
He also said that Netanyahu “has got a history of being very clear on where he is on this.”
“I don’t think he’s intentionally trying to derail negotiations,” Hagel added.
In an interview with Israeli TV Sunday, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, another leading Obama administration official, addressed Netanyahu’s comments at the UN that Israel would stand alone against Iran if need be. Sherman remarked that the best resolution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program was “a peaceful negotiated solution” — and that Netanyahu was well aware of that fact.
“Israel knows as well as any country, if not better than any country, the cost of war, the cost of military action,” she said.
Netanyahu, at a Likud faction meeting Monday, chose to play up the inflammatory rhetoric emanating from Iran in the past few days, ahead of the anniversary of the 1979 storming of the American embassy in Tehran.
“In Tehran, the masses are roaring ‘Death to America.’ They are marking for the 34th time a special day to commemorate the takeover of the US embassy by revolutionary forces. It’s not even necessary to mention that in addition to death to America, they are also shouting, ‘Death to Israel.’”
“Whoever wants to see the true face of the Iranian regime should see what is happening there today,” he continued. “Whoever wants to see the true face of the Iranian regime should listen to what the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said yesterday, that America is the most hated country in the universe.”
“All the while, they are sending President Hassan Rouhani to the negotiations with a smile on his face.”
Rouhani has embarked on an outreach campaign to the West since he was elected in June, but he remarked on Tuesday that his government “is not optimistic about the Westerners and the current negotiations,” according to AFP.
Lazar Berman contributed to this report.