Iranian Nuclear Talks Suggest Progress

The latest round of Iran and P5+1 nuclear talks finished on Wednesday night. the next round of talks will be held in Novomber 7 and 8 in Geneva.
At the end of the talks Iran and P5+1 issued a joint statement for the first time. read the full text of the statement here.
On the First day of the latest round of Iran and P5+1 ( Iran and the USA, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) nuclear talks in Geneva there was hope brought by international observers for a breakthrough in the decade long nuclear negotiations.
 
On Tuesday, after Iran presented a new proposal and answered questions from the P5+1 in  two plenary sessions in the morning and afternoon, a surprising bilateral meeting between members of Iran and the US delegations took place. According to the Iranian Deputy FM Abbas Araghchi who led the Iranian delegations, only issues related to the nuclear talks were discussed in the one hour long meeting.
 
“We saw a change of tone from the other side but we are not witnessing any change in their approach so far,” said Araghchi who was briefing Iranian media after the bilateral talks with the American delegation late Tuesday.
“It is difficult for Iran to move forward if it does not see changes in the P5+1′s approach [towards Iran],” he said to journalists in the Iranian ambassador’s residence in Geneva.
 
Describing the features of the Iranian new proposal he added, ” Mutual and equivalent confidence building steps are defined as the first steps and then in the second step we will try to prevent exacerbating the situation to meet the immediate concerns of the both sides in the third step.”  
 
Political observers in Tehran believe that the first step which Iran expects to last for six months, the country is seeking some sanctions relief (Banking and Petrochemical sanctions for example) in return for slackening Iran’s nuclear program including limiting the level of uranium enrichment.
 
However according to the explanation by Araghchi, working for the ultimate solving of differences and disputes will require a  fourth and final step which is in Iran’s proposal and this last step is implementing agreements reached between two sides during the process.
 
Araghchi said the Fatwa of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei against building and the use of nuclear weapons is an important element of the last step. Political observers believe that the Fatwa can justify limiting aspects of Iran’s nuclear program and implementing additional supervision to Iran’s nuclear facilities.
 
However it is not clear yet whether Iran would accept to implement the Additional Protocol of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which allows unexpected inspections into Iran’s nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
 
The official Iranian News Agency IRNA quoted Araghchi on Tuesday morning saying the Additional Protocol is not part of Iran’s proposal although the Iranian Student’s News Agency reported on Wednesday morning that Araghchi confirmed that discussing the Additional Protocol is part of the last step in Iran’s proposal.
 
Jasmin Ramsey of IPS also interviewed Abbas Araghchi and got the confirmation that the Additional Protocol is part of the final step.
Iran had voluntarily implemented the Additional Protocol between 2003 – 2005 but suspended it after the West issued resolutions against Iran despite their earlier promises and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani who was in charge of the country’s nuclear negotiations in 2003, came under criticism for actually halting the nuclear program.
 
“Iran will not accept the Additional Protocol [again],” says Mansour Haghighatpour, deputy chairman of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran’s Parliament in an interview with Nasim news site.
 
In return for Iran accepting additional supervision and limitations to its nuclear program but “still continuing enrichment and keeping active the nuclear facilities including the research reactors, all of the sanctions issued by UNSC, US and EU should be removed in the last stage,” Araghchi said to the Iranian journalist covering the negotiations in Geneva.
 
Iran’s readiness to accept the Additional Protocol in return for comprehensive sanctions relief is seen as a significant change in Iran’s approach toward the nuclear talks by [Iranian] observers which can be interpreted by what Iranian supreme leader described as ‘Heroic flexibility’.
 
The second day of nuclear talks in Geneva began with a few hours delay on Wednesday noon. This was requested by the P5+1 to answer Iran’s questions regarding the P5+1′s positions is on the agenda.
 
Iranian delegation members also had bilateral meetings with the French and British delegations this Wendesday morning. “High Representative Ashton convened a meeting this morning of Political Directors from the E3+3. There have also been bilateral meetings during the course of the morning,”  said Michael Mann spokesperson for EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.
 
In a bilateral meeting with Russia’s top negotiator Sergey Ryabcov, Abbas Araghchi also discussed regional issues including the Syrian conflict and the Geneva II talks. “In the meeting Ryabcov said the Americans couldn’t satisfy the Syrian opposition to attend the Geneva II talks yet,” Araghchi said.

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