UN's nuclear agency, Iran begin critical meeting ahead of Baghdad talks
Today's meeting between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iranian officials is meant to lay the groundwork for next week's critical meeting in Baghdad between Iran and the P5 + 1.
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British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters that the European Union wants proof that Iran is taking steps to reassure the international community it is not pursuing a military nuclear program and that if it fails to do so, the EU will consider further sanctions. "Now we wait to see some concrete steps and proposals from Iran," Mr. Hague told reporters. "Without that, of course we have sanctions we have imposed. They will not only be enforced but, over time, intensified."Skip to next paragraph
Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
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Among other sanctions, Iran faces the July 1 implementation of an EU-wide ban on importing Iranian oil.
Yesterday Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, warned against putting pressure on Iran, saying such actions could scuttle the Baghdad talks. "The era of a pressure strategy is ended. Any strategic miscalculations would endanger success at the Baghdad negotiations," he said, telling Western officials to refrain from making "unconstructive remarks," according to Reuters.
The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that Iran expects an easing of sanctions to accompany each of its concessions. One Iranian official said that Tehran's "minimum expectation" is a lifting of sanctions. But, as the Monitor notes, reversing or easing sanctions is a slow, "conservative" process, and it's unlikely that it could happen ahead of the Baghdad meeting.
Administration officials say that "sanctions relief is not on the table unless and until we see substantial concessions" from Iran, says Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"I don't think there is really any give on the sanctions issue ... in part because in a political year, an election year, with a Congress that is very solidly behind these sanctions, it would be very difficult for the president to appear to be waffling on them at all," says Ms. Maloney.
"I do worry that there is a disconnect," says Maloney. "The Iranians from their perspective need something to demonstrate some sense of victory, and to persuade the skeptics within their own camp that there are rewards to be gained from cooperation, not just preventing any further pressure, but actually lifting some of the sense of siege."