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Nuclear talks resume: Iran looking for respect and reciprocity

The third round of nuclear talks begins tomorrow in Moscow between Iran and the P5+1 group of the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.

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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton represents the P5+1 at the table. US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman is also there with other senior P5+1 officials.

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For any deal to stick, both sides need to be able to sell it at home as their own victory, says Limbert, a Persian speaker who was one of the US hostages held in Iran from 1979 to 1981, and author of "Negotiating with Iran."
"We're stuck in this pattern we've been in so long of moralizing, sermonizing," says Limbert. The result can be little recognition of Iran's need, also, to declare success: "Somehow it has to be sold [in Iran] as, 'We protected our rights, we protected our dignity, we didn't give in. ' "

Enrichment an 'inalienable right'

That impulse was clear when Jalili briefed Iran's parliament last week. The Moscow talks would proceed under the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which describes an "inalienable right" of nations to produce nuclear energy.

There was "no prohibition" of "any kind of enrichment for peaceful purposes," Jalili told the chamber. "It's possible that we may need higher or lower enrichment for other peaceful applications. This is our right, and we must be able to exercise this right."

Several United Nations Security Council resolutions require Iran to suspend all enrichment, however, until it resolves questions about past weapons-related work.

Iranian officials have stated a readiness to deal on their 20 percent enriched uranium, which is a few technical steps from weapons grade of more than 90 percent.

But giving up all enrichment, they say, will not happen. And for any deal, Iran expects something it values in return, like sanctions relief.

"If trust helped in Istanbul ... in Moscow on Monday we need reciprocity," wrote former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian, and Tehran-based analyst Mohammad Ali Shabani, in the Guardian on Friday. "All sides need to be courageous enough to recognize a fair exchange is a central tenet of dialogue."

The P5+1 proposal

The P5+1 proposal includes stopping 20 percent enrichment and shutting down a deeply buried enrichment site where it happens at Fordow, which is currently under safeguard by UN nuclear inspectors but beyond easy reach of Israeli or US attack.

"The offer was deliberately ungenerous – some would say unrealistic" and probably an opening bid, the International Crisis Group (ICG) noted in a report last Friday.

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