Iranian spokesmen are maneuvering for a postponement of the nuclear negotiations with world powers set to take place April 13-14 in Istanbul,DEBKAfile’s Iranian sources report. It is feared in Washington and Jerusalem that Tehran is working toward two goals: To have the venue removed from Istanbul and to buy a couple more months before the diplomatic crunch, considering that the US and Israel are treating the April talks as the last chance for diplomacy to reverse Iran’s drive for a nuclear weapon. A postponement would therefore delay any military option that Israel or possibly America would choose to exercise.
The Iranians want the site moved to Moscow, Vienna or Geneva, a change opposed by Washington because it would consume several more months before the talks got started. Tehran is also signaling through Moscow that it is not prepared for the diplomatic dialogue to take place under military threat or economic sanctions.
While Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refrained from mentioning military options in presenting his government’s three-year record Tuesday, April 3 – ignoring the three large-scale military movements afoot by the US, Russia, Turkey, Syria, Greece - and Israel itself, Moscow is talking about an imminent military conflagration as a result of the continuing US and Israeli military buildup in the Persian Gulf.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Tuesday, April 3: “The Middle East standoff could boil over into military action at any moment.” Referring to the massing of military and naval forces in the Persian Gulf, he said: The pot can explode if the diplomatic valve is not opened.”
He made no mention of the scheduled April 13-14 nuclear talks. One of the most influential figures in today’s Tehran Mohsen Rezaie was more explicit: “Given the fact that our friends in Turkey have failed to fulfill some of our agreements, the talks… had better be held in another friendly country.”
He did not specify which agreements Ankara had failed to meet, but his rejection of Istanbul as the venue for the talks was unqualified.
Strong criticism of the Erdogan government also came from a senior member of Iran’s parliamentary foreign policy and national security commission Esmaeel Kosari. He said during a visit to Azerbaijan:”Turkey serves as the United States and Israel’s messenger and mediator. The Turkish government will be hated by its citizens if it continues this role.”
In Iran’s political culture, neither of these men would have spoken without a green light from the office of the all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Kosari’s mission in Baku was to investigate recent reports that Azerbaijan had given Israeli permission for its bases to be used by the Israeli Air Force in an attack on Iran.
Early Wednesday, April 4, Iraqi officials suddenly offered Baghdad as the venue for the forthcoming world power talks with Iran.
The US and Israel are certain to reject this offer because it would give Tehran the important edge of a key diplomatic event taking place on pro-Iranian soil.