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.
(Page 3 of 3)
A deal that 'makes everybody happy'
Iran has not wavered in its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, once a red line for the West. Today more than 9,000 centrifuges are installed in Iran, and few now expect Iran to stop entirely.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But Iran has frequently said it is willing to halt its most sensitive work enriching to 20 percent purity – the level it needs to fuel a small research reactor, though technically not far from weapons-grade 90 percent.
Initial stages of a deal are likely to see Iran limit enrichment to below 5 percent, to fuel power reactors, and allow intrusive inspections, in exchange for an easing of sanctions.
If the positive signals are genuine, says the Tehran analyst – and Iran is not asked to give up enrichment altogether – then a deal is possible "that makes everybody happy."
"Iran can insist that we gained our right to enrich and have the knowledge of the [nuclear] fuel cycle, we gained it – we brought it out of the mouths of the enemies, or whatever formulation they want – and we are not making any weapon or secret materials, so let them inspect," says the analyst.
Track II meetings to build trust
The contours of such a deal have taken clearer shape in recent months. A suggested framework published by the Oxford Research Group on Monday spells out the importance of defining the endgame, "seeing the opportunities for positive signaling," and taking "regime change" off the table.
Crucial to success will be creating a "balance of advantage," such that "neither side is forced to undertake commitments dependent on the assurances of the other party's future actions."
The Oxford study suggests Track II meetings to build trust behind closed doors, in parallel with set-piece talks, face-saving mechanisms for both sides, and a review of the "carrot and stick" policy that in Iran's view yields only "weapons in a protracted effort to achieve 'regime change.'"
Some of these measures are likely to emerge at the Baghdad talks. Western officials have said Iran would be presented a "Chinese menu" of options.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard has been "suspiciously quiet" on the nuclear issue in recent weeks, in contrast to earlier this year, says the former European diplomat.
The problem for Iran's leadership, notes the diplomat, is that "inside the regime there will always be – like on the American side or Israeli side – people who are against these negotiations and reaching a compromise as a matter of ideology."