Reflecting a greater flexibility and movement by Iranian officials to interact with American officials during visits to New York, President Hassan Rouhani held an unprecedented dinner meeting with “twenty former American officials—including a secretary of state, three national-security advisers, and a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—from all six Administrations since the 1979 revolution….Among his guests were the former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the former national-security advisers Stephen Hadley, Samuel Berger, and Brent Scowcroft, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, and the former congresswoman Jane Harman, who served on the House Intelligence, Homeland Security, and Armed Services Committees.”
According to an article in Tuesday’s Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal, Iran is willing to accept intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities ( outlined in the document known as the Additional Protocols without officially acknowledging its acceptance of the document), in return, Iranians expect sanctions relief and breathing room for their economy. The Iranian foreign minister & lead negotiator, Javad Zarif, posted a message on his Facebook account saying the Geneva talks were “the start of a difficult and relatively time-consuming way forward”. He said: “I am hopeful that by Wednesday we can reach agreement on a road map to find a path towards resolution. But even with the goodwill of the other side, to reach agreement on details and start implementation will probably require another meeting at ministerial level.” According to the Guardian, ” Iran is also prepared to negotiate on the number of centrifuges it uses to make 3.5% enriched uranium, suitable for fuel for nuclear power stations, and on how much each centrifuge makes.”
All of this still could fall short of the demands by US and Europeans for closing of the facility at Fordow, and scaling down of operations at Arak nuclear power plant. Yet, Iranian change of tone and willingness to address the concerns of the P5+1 group is clearly a step forward in the diplomatic dance between Iran and P5+1.