Iran and United States have intensified their nuclear negotiations with difference teams meeting to agree on a draft agreement. It is possible that they want a draft agreement by September 22nd, the date Iran’s foreign minister, and possibly President Rouhani, will come to New York to attend United Nations General Assembly. It was reported that Iran has agreed to a maximum of 7,000 centrifuges. This could break the ice, and with high ranking officials meeting in Geneva, there is cautious optimism.
A small group of hardliners in the Iranian parliament have mounted a concerted effort to undermine Iranian foreign minister’s initiatives to work out a nuclear deal with the West. But despite these pressures, Zarif has put up a brave effort defending the policies of President Rouhani. In one statement, he accused the hardliners of playing into Israel’s hand and doing the latter’s work.
In an exclusive Time magazine interview, the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif talks about Iranian hardliners who “believe the West and particularly the United States are not sincere, are not interested about reaching an agreement.” In the United States, hawkish senators like Marco Rubio (R-FL), express the same skepticism. It seems that hardliners in Tehran and Washington are mirror image of each other. However, the hardliners in Washington know that they can sabotage the interim nuclear deal with Iran if they enact more sanctions. In contrast, as long as the Iranian Supreme Leader supports the agreement, it is doubtful if hardliners can do anything except their vocal opposition to the deal.
“Major world powers reached an agreement with Iran early Sunday morning in Geneva, producing an interim deal that would roll back the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for limited sanction relief.” Good News for the Iranian people, and this is a victory for Rouhani and his foreign policy team.
Two day talks between Iran and P5+1 group ended in Geneva. Iranians put forward a proposal to allow intrusive IAEA inspection in accordance to the Additional Protocols that Iran had agreed in 2004-2005, but never ratified. For the first time, Iran has publicly agreed to certain limitations on its nuclear program, although specific details were not disclosed. Western officials described the discussions as “substantive” and “forward-looking.” Another first-time event was a joint press release by Zarif and Ashton. Both officials emphasized positive steps, expressed their satisfaction with the talks. Representatives from the two sides are to meet again in Geneva for talks on Nov. 7 and 8.
Compared to previous negotiations between Saeed Jalili and Ashton, this time the atmosphere was clearly very different. After May 2013 round of negotiations, participants described their discussions as “fruitful,” and “useful.” In contrast, nuclear negotiations between Zarif and Ashton were described as “substantive.” According to one expert, “a key challenge will be to reach agreement on an interim measure that balances the P5-plus-1 desire to halt advances in Iran’s nuclear program with Iran’s desire for early sanctions relief.”
Iran and the P5+1 group ( US, UK, France, Russia, China +Germany) hold their first nuclear talks with the government of Hassan Rouhani. Expectations have been very high due to several months of positive signals exchanged between the two countries ending with a high-level telephone conversation between Obama and Rouhani after 34 years. Iran’s Foreign Minister opened the talk with a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Closing an Unnecessary Crisis – Opening New Horizons.” Despite a heavy press and media contingent on the scene, not much is being reported about the details of their discussions. But one thing is certain: The atmosphere has changed significantly from previous round of negotiations when the Iranian delegates were giving sermons and lectures, instead of addressing the issues of concerns. The stakes for both governments cannot be underestimated, but one thing that is favoring the negotiations is the shutdown of U.S. government that has taken the attention of senators and congressmen away from these negotiations, no one is issuing critical statements, or threats to put more sanctions on Iran.