Unusually good forecast for Iran nuclear talks (+video)
UN nuclear chief Yukiya Amano today announced an agreement with Iran to clear up remaining questions about Iran nuclear weapons work ahead of tomorrow's talks in Baghdad.
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United Nations nuclear agency chief Yukiya Amano today announced an agreement with Iran that was expected to deepen inspections and clear up remaining questions about possible weapons-related work – issues that have plagued Iran's nuclear dossier for years. Speaking in Vienna after a high-profile visit to Tehran on Monday, Mr. Amano said "important" progress had been made on a framework plan and that an accord would be signed "quite soon."
Yet as expectations of progress have grown in recent weeks, analysts question whether Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei can rise above domestic and ideological issues and strike a deal.
Ayatollah Khamenei is torn between hard-liners who reject any agreement with the West in principle – his own rhetoric has long pointed in that direction – and the benefits of global recognition of Iran's nuclear program, with a deal that also avoids war and eases crippling sanctions.
"The only thing that makes me doubt is: Up there [for Khamenei] is there a will to go ahead and make a deal, or not?" asks a veteran analyst in Tehran who preferred not to be named.
"Is there a ... clearly decided aim at 'Let's get this over with, put it behind us, and move forward?' " asks the analyst. "The problem is the hard-line guys ... who think that Iran is in the best, strongest position ever, and America and the West are in the weakest position, and we don't need to lift a small finger to do anything; it's they who have to do something.
"This crazy way of thinking is still in fashion; the moderate voice is not being heard a lot," adds the Tehran analyst. "This hard-line voice is still holding the loudspeaker, and shouting its ideas, and there is no sign that it's being shut up."
Khamenei takes charge of the nuclear issue
Positive signals from both sides have preceded the Baghdad talks, in which Iran and the P5+1 group (the US, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany) will seek a deal to verifiably limit Iran's nuclear efforts to peaceful use only.