The latest round of talks between the P5 + 1 countries and Iran on Iran’s nuclear technology are underway today in Moscow amid mixed signals on whether any progress is expected. There is significant pressure on Iran in these negotiations as the sanctions currently in place are already causing great difficulty and they are set to move to an even more restrictive level in two weeks if no diplomatic progress is made.
Iran’s Mehr News agency is running a story with the headline “Iranian nuclear negotiators not optimistic about Moscow talks” which paints a stark picture of prospects for the talks:
The quality of the interaction of the Western countries’ representatives in the nuclear talks with Iran coupled with the atmosphere prevalent in the Baghdad talks, a reluctance for preparatory and expert talks before the Moscow meeting, and no authorization to present effective proposals have almost eroded chances for a breakthrough in the talks which starts on Monday, our correspondent says.
The Iranian negotiators say the Western countries on the 5+1 group have reneged on the agreements made in the previous meetings. They also say if the Western countries repeat their previous statements the negotiations will “definitely fail”.
Iran has clearly favored Moscow’s “step by step” proposal since the beginning of the process, and that preference also appears in this article:
There is also no sign that the Western countries are committed to the “step-by-step” approach or any new proposals will be presented in the talks on Monday and Tuesday.
According to the “step-by-step” proposal, which was first revealed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Moscow Embassy in Washington on July 12, 2011, Iran would take steps to increase cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and those steps would be rewarded with a gradual easing of sanctions.
Almost out of nowhere, Joby Warrick’s article in the Washington Post, which mostly centers on the status of sanctions now in place against Iran and the new sanctions set to kick in soon provides a “step by step” reference at the end. In this case, it seems significant that the reference is attributed to a Western diplomat:
But the Moscow talks could bog down quickly if Iran persists in demanding immediate relief from Western economic sanctions in exchange for any downsizing of its nuclear ambitions, U.S. diplomats and Iran experts say. Obama administration officials have said they would oppose a significant easing of sanctions until Iran makes verifiable cuts that sharply restrict its ability to develop nuclear weapons.
“We need to see a step-by-step process, with the core issue being an agreement by Iran on 20 percent enriched uranium,” said a Western diplomat involved in preparations for the Moscow talks. Read more