High stakes for Iran nuclear talks
This weekend is seen as Tehran's best opportunity to make concessions on the Iran nuclear program if it is has any intention of doing so.
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The Associated Press reports that Iran feels it has the upper hand going into negotiations and that in some ways it has already succeeded. "The West — at least at this stage — no longer calls for an all-out halt to uranium enrichment as it did last year. If this path stays, Iran can boast about outmaneuvering the Western demands and keeping the heart of the nuclear program intact. The U.S. and others will then have to sell this outcome to the Israelis," AP reports.Skip to next paragraph
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Iran could accede to the world powers' request that it halt its 20 percent enriched uranium production "without any direct pain to its nuclear program" and demand a lifting of some of the sanctions in return, according to AP. It could also comply with demands that it close a recently opened second enrichment site, known as Fordo, without slowing its enrichment too much because another site provides most of Iran's fuel.
According to a separate AP report, the Obama administration wants proof of progress quickly, both to hold off Israel from a military strike and to uphold its own commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The U.S. and other world powers are stopping short of saying the gathering in Istanbul is a make-or-break situation. But as they sit down with Iranian officials for the first time in more than a year to press yet again for an agreement on Tehran's disputed nuclear program, American officials say the window for a diplomatic breakthrough is closing. And in the event the talks fail completely, all U.S. options remain on the table.
In an Op-Ed for the Washington Post published yesterday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi says that Iran has already proven its commitment to talks. "Despite sanctions, threats of war, assassinations of several of our scientists and other forms of terrorism, we have chosen to remain committed to dialogue," he writes, identifying the "key issue between Iran and the United States" as a lack of trust.
To reestablish trust, all sides must assume an honest approach with a view toward moving past the barriers to sincere dialogue.