Iran and a group of six world powers struck a positive pose in Geneva this week as they began new negotiations to bring Iran’s disputed nuclear program to heel. While details of the first two days of talks are carefully guarded and the terms of an agreement are far from clear, the process itself is being greeted with enormous enthusiasm.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Iran’s Geneva initiative, intended to show that Tehran’s nuclear program has no military objectives. “The Iranian proposal,” said Mr. Carney, “is a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters: “We hope that this is a beginning of a new phase in our relations” with the international community. Mr. Zarif’s goal is to win a reprieve from the economic sanctions imposed on Iran for failing to comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“This tells us that the Iranians are very serious because they want sanctions lifted,” said Geneive Abdo, director of the U.S.-Iran Advisory Group at the Stimson Center, a non-partisan Washington think tank. “But this does not mean they believe they are vulnerable,” she added. “They will be hard negotiators.”
Indeed, one of the international community’s key demands – having all stockpiles of enriched uranium removed from Iran – was ruled out Sunday before the talks even began. “The shipping of materials out of the country is our red line,” Iran’s deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araqchi declared.
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