Showing posts tagged as "Iran"

Showing posts tagged Iran

17 Sep

With A Deadline Looming, Iran’s Nuclear Talks Reopen In New York | PETER KENYON

Negotiations on limiting Iran’s nuclear program resume this week in New York, but a summer of multiplying crises has world capitals distracted as the talks hit a crucial stage.

The high-profile setting for this round of talks between Iran and six world powers has raised expectations, and the talks come at a time when world leaders are also gathering for the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

The last round of talks, aimed at giving Iran sanctions relief if it accepts strict limits intended to keep it from acquiring a nuclear weapon, ended in Vienna in July with only an agreement to keep trying for a few more months.

Now, as a crisis-heavy summer turns into fall, the Ukraine conflict, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the extremist violence in Iraq and Syria are all threatening to overshadow the Iran issue.

READ FULL TRANSCRIPT (NPR)

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12 Sep

Crisis Group President Jean-Marie Guéhenno discusses Syria and the UN on the BBC.

29 Aug
"Iran should accept more quantitative constraints on the number of its centrifuges and postpone plans for industrial-scale enrichment. In return, the P5+1 should accept the continuation of qualitative growth of Tehran’s enrichment capacity through research and development."

—From Crisis Group’s latest briefing: Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”

28 Aug
Reports propose compromise for Iran nuclear deal | Laura Rozen
As negotiators from Iran and six world powers prepare to resume talks next month, two new papers by prominent arms-control experts close to the negotiations offer prescriptions for how to overcome key obstacles to reach a nuclear deal.
The new papers, by former US nuclear negotiator Robert Einhorn, the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Arms Control Association (ACA), propose a compromise that would have Iran agree to reduce the size of its enrichment program in the near term while allowing it to conduct research on more efficient centrifuges. That would enable Iran to expand its enrichment capacity for energy purposes after the deal expires, if Iran still desires to. The new reports seem to reflect a convergence of expert opinion on possible compromise solutions for a deal.
FULL ARTICLE (Al Monitor)
Photo: Bundesministerium fur Europa, Integration und Ausseres/flickr

Reports propose compromise for Iran nuclear deal | Laura Rozen

As negotiators from Iran and six world powers prepare to resume talks next month, two new papers by prominent arms-control experts close to the negotiations offer prescriptions for how to overcome key obstacles to reach a nuclear deal.

The new papers, by former US nuclear negotiator Robert Einhorn, the International Crisis Group (ICG) and the Arms Control Association (ACA), propose a compromise that would have Iran agree to reduce the size of its enrichment program in the near term while allowing it to conduct research on more efficient centrifuges. That would enable Iran to expand its enrichment capacity for energy purposes after the deal expires, if Iran still desires to. The new reports seem to reflect a convergence of expert opinion on possible compromise solutions for a deal.

FULL ARTICLE (Al Monitor)

Photo: Bundesministerium fur Europa, Integration und Ausseres/flickr

27 Aug
Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”
Istanbul/Tehran/Washington/Brussels  |   27 Aug 2014
November’s deadline could be the last chance to avoid a breakdown in the Iran and the P5+1 nuclear talks. Compromise on Iran’s enrichment capacity is key to ending the impasse, requiring both sides to walk back from maximalist positions and focus on realistic solutions. 
Despite significant headway in negotiations over the past six months, Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) remain far apart on fundamental issues. In its latest briefing, Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”, the International Crisis Group argues that both sides have forgotten the lessons that brought them this far. They have wrongly assumed that desperation for a deal would soften their rival’s bottom line and compel it to ignore its domestic political constraints. The result is a dangerous game of brinkmanship that, if continued, will yield only failure. Though there is little room for error and no time to waste, a workable compromise is still possible. Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”, Crisis Group’s latest briefing, building on the 40-point plan for a nuclear accord it detailed in May, explores a half year of talks, investigates the new realities facing negotiators and offers an innovative way out of the impasse.
The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
Iran and the P5+1 should find common ground by reverse-engineering political concerns underlying their technical differences. For Iran, this means a meaningful enrichment program; continued scientific advancement; and tangible sanctions relief. For the P5+1, this requires a firewall between Iran’s civilian and potential military nuclear capabilities; ironclad monitoring mechanisms; and sufficient time and cooperation to build trust.
Iran should accept more quantitative constraints on the number of its centrifuges and postpone plans for industrial-scale enrichment. In return, the P5+1 should accept the continuation of qualitative growth of Tehran’s enrichment capacity through research and development.
Iran should commit to using Russian-supplied nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor for its entire lifetime, in return for stronger Russian guarantees of supply and enhanced P5+1 nuclear cooperation, especially on nuclear fuel fabrication. This would gradually prepare Tehran to assume responsibility for a possible additional plant, or plants, by the end of the agreement, in eleven to sixteen years.
An accord should be based on realistic, substantive milestones such as the time the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs to investigate Iran’s past nuclear activities ­ to determine the duration of the final agreement’s several phases rather than subjective ones dictated by political calendars.
“Neither side’s arguments bear scrutiny in the debate over the number of centrifuges, because the roots of their differences are fundamentally political”, says Ali Vaez, Iran Senior Analyst. “Negotiators are both driven and constrained by their respective domestic politics, especially the U.S. and Iran, where powerful constituencies remain skeptical of the negotiations and have the leverage to derail them”.
“The moment of truth for Iran and the P5+1 has arrived. Should it be lost, it is unlikely to soon reappear”, says Robert Blecher, Acting Middle East Program Director. “The parties could allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good and watch the best opportunity to resolve this crisis devolve into a mutually harmful spiral of escalation. Or they could choose wisely”.
FULL REPORT

Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”

Istanbul/Tehran/Washington/Brussels  |   27 Aug 2014

November’s deadline could be the last chance to avoid a breakdown in the Iran and the P5+1 nuclear talks. Compromise on Iran’s enrichment capacity is key to ending the impasse, requiring both sides to walk back from maximalist positions and focus on realistic solutions. 

Despite significant headway in negotiations over the past six months, Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) remain far apart on fundamental issues. In its latest briefing, Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”, the International Crisis Group argues that both sides have forgotten the lessons that brought them this far. They have wrongly assumed that desperation for a deal would soften their rival’s bottom line and compel it to ignore its domestic political constraints. The result is a dangerous game of brinkmanship that, if continued, will yield only failure. Though there is little room for error and no time to waste, a workable compromise is still possible. Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”, Crisis Group’s latest briefing, building on the 40-point plan for a nuclear accord it detailed in May, explores a half year of talks, investigates the new realities facing negotiators and offers an innovative way out of the impasse.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • Iran and the P5+1 should find common ground by reverse-engineering political concerns underlying their technical differences. For Iran, this means a meaningful enrichment program; continued scientific advancement; and tangible sanctions relief. For the P5+1, this requires a firewall between Iran’s civilian and potential military nuclear capabilities; ironclad monitoring mechanisms; and sufficient time and cooperation to build trust.
  • Iran should accept more quantitative constraints on the number of its centrifuges and postpone plans for industrial-scale enrichment. In return, the P5+1 should accept the continuation of qualitative growth of Tehran’s enrichment capacity through research and development.
  • Iran should commit to using Russian-supplied nuclear fuel for the Bushehr reactor for its entire lifetime, in return for stronger Russian guarantees of supply and enhanced P5+1 nuclear cooperation, especially on nuclear fuel fabrication. This would gradually prepare Tehran to assume responsibility for a possible additional plant, or plants, by the end of the agreement, in eleven to sixteen years.
  • An accord should be based on realistic, substantive milestones such as the time the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs to investigate Iran’s past nuclear activities ­ to determine the duration of the final agreement’s several phases rather than subjective ones dictated by political calendars.

“Neither side’s arguments bear scrutiny in the debate over the number of centrifuges, because the roots of their differences are fundamentally political”, says Ali Vaez, Iran Senior Analyst. “Negotiators are both driven and constrained by their respective domestic politics, especially the U.S. and Iran, where powerful constituencies remain skeptical of the negotiations and have the leverage to derail them”.

“The moment of truth for Iran and the P5+1 has arrived. Should it be lost, it is unlikely to soon reappear”, says Robert Blecher, Acting Middle East Program Director. “The parties could allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good and watch the best opportunity to resolve this crisis devolve into a mutually harmful spiral of escalation. Or they could choose wisely”.

FULL REPORT

"Negotiators first should address the crucial issue of defining Iran’s enrichment capacity. Removing that obstacle would constitute real progress and, in so doing, increase the costs of ultimate failure; further, it could give the negotiators an incentive to compromise on other issues of more recent vintage, such as concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program."

—From Crisis Group’s latest briefing: Iran and the P5+1: Getting to “Yes”

7 Aug
U.S.-Iran Seek Fresh Momentum in Extra-Time Nuclear Talks | Jonathan Tirone
U.S. and Iranian diplomats are meeting to inject fresh momentum into nuclear negotiations after differences over the Persian Gulf nation’s future uranium enrichment forced negotiators to seek extra time.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, the No. 2 ranked U.S. diplomat, will lead talks with his Iranian counterparts in Geneva today, the State Department said late yesterday. Iran and world powers pledged to keep talking after they failed to clinch a long-term deal following 16 days of negotiations in Vienna last month.
“After a 2 1/2-week break it’s time for the negotiations to get back on track,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview. The sides “made it clear that during the extension period they would meet in different formations.”
FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Photo: European External Action Service/flickr

U.S.-Iran Seek Fresh Momentum in Extra-Time Nuclear Talks | Jonathan Tirone

U.S. and Iranian diplomats are meeting to inject fresh momentum into nuclear negotiations after differences over the Persian Gulf nation’s future uranium enrichment forced negotiators to seek extra time.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, the No. 2 ranked U.S. diplomat, will lead talks with his Iranian counterparts in Geneva today, the State Department said late yesterday. Iran and world powers pledged to keep talking after they failed to clinch a long-term deal following 16 days of negotiations in Vienna last month.

“After a 2 1/2-week break it’s time for the negotiations to get back on track,” Ellie Geranmayeh, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an interview. The sides “made it clear that during the extension period they would meet in different formations.”

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Photo: European External Action Service/flickr

25 Jul
Why overtime in nuclear talks with Iran is better than game over | Ali Vaez
Ali Vaez is Crisis Group’s Senior Iran Analyst.
After nearly three weeks of round-the-clock negotiations to achieve a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran, the United States, joined by its major allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China — the P5+1 — chose to extend the current agreement for four months and continue negotiations.
Skeptics in both the U.S. and Iran have already started accusing each other of negotiating in bad faith and seeking only to buy time. Some in the U.S. Congress are even trying to pass legislation that will torpedo the diplomatic process.
They are wrong. There are many reasons it was a wiser choice to extend these talks rather than quit and go home.
First, the talks were deadlocked mostly as a result of brinkmanship that stemmed from the looming July 20 deadline. Each party had put out maximalist opening gambits, dug its heels in and hoped that the other side would budge at the 11th hour. Each also incorrectly assumed that the other was desperate for a deal. Thus, no one blinked. With that miscalculation behind them, the parties can now pursue a more realistic, clear-eyed approach.
Second, the U.S. and Iran were smart not to be pressured into quickly concluding a bad deal, because ultimately only a good deal will be sustainable in the long run. It is preferable that negotiators take time to work through an accord’s complicated technical and political aspects and ensure that its implementation be as smooth as possible. It is better to continue negotiating than for a deal to ultimately collapse because the parties were rushed by an arbitrary deadline.
In addition, more time could help the main stakeholders, Iran and the U.S., prepare their people for a compromise. In the past few weeks, both sides publicly postured in order to strengthen their hand at the negotiating table. But with no agreement achieved, they only diminished their room for maneuvering. They must now walk back from the less realistic positions they took during their brinksmanship — lest domestic politics trump their national interests and nonproliferation norms. 
The fact that the process continues despite such major obstacles testifies to the parties’ desire to reach agreement. But while political will is essential, it is not enough. If Iran continues to insist that it wants to retain and eventually increase its enrichment capacity and the P5+1 insist that Tehran should roll back and constrain its program for decades, talks will go nowhere. Iran should show more flexibility on reducing its enrichment program in the agreement’s early phases, when its fuel needs would still be minimal, in return for flexibility on allowing the program’s gradual growth. Increases could be pegged to objective measures, such as the amount of time that the United Nations nuclear watchdog requires to give Iran’s nuclear program a clean bill of health. Instead of trying to force the other side to agree with their fixed positions, negotiators should strive to broaden available options, a process that needs time.
Finally, extending the talks is much better than the alternatives: a return to an escalating cycle of more sanctions and more centrifuges, an Iranian bomb or bombing Iran. At the very least, a breakdown now would reduce the chance of success later, as it would erode trust, discredit politicians who are deeply invested in diplomacy and harden positions.
The region and the world are better off thanks to the interim agreement that Iran and the world powers signed last year. The parties, despite the extra time added to the clock, might not be able to reach a compromise that protects everyone’s core interests, contains Iran’s nuclear program and rehabilitates the country’s economy and international standing. But with the costs of failure and the benefits of success so high, they should stay on the field. 
ORIGINAL COMMENTARY (Al Jazeera)
Photo: European External Action Service/flickr

Why overtime in nuclear talks with Iran is better than game over | Ali Vaez

Ali Vaez is Crisis Group’s Senior Iran Analyst.

After nearly three weeks of round-the-clock negotiations to achieve a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran, the United States, joined by its major allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China — the P5+1 — chose to extend the current agreement for four months and continue negotiations.

Skeptics in both the U.S. and Iran have already started accusing each other of negotiating in bad faith and seeking only to buy time. Some in the U.S. Congress are even trying to pass legislation that will torpedo the diplomatic process.

They are wrong. There are many reasons it was a wiser choice to extend these talks rather than quit and go home.

First, the talks were deadlocked mostly as a result of brinkmanship that stemmed from the looming July 20 deadline. Each party had put out maximalist opening gambits, dug its heels in and hoped that the other side would budge at the 11th hour. Each also incorrectly assumed that the other was desperate for a deal. Thus, no one blinked. With that miscalculation behind them, the parties can now pursue a more realistic, clear-eyed approach.

Second, the U.S. and Iran were smart not to be pressured into quickly concluding a bad deal, because ultimately only a good deal will be sustainable in the long run. It is preferable that negotiators take time to work through an accord’s complicated technical and political aspects and ensure that its implementation be as smooth as possible. It is better to continue negotiating than for a deal to ultimately collapse because the parties were rushed by an arbitrary deadline.

In addition, more time could help the main stakeholders, Iran and the U.S., prepare their people for a compromise. In the past few weeks, both sides publicly postured in order to strengthen their hand at the negotiating table. But with no agreement achieved, they only diminished their room for maneuvering. They must now walk back from the less realistic positions they took during their brinksmanship — lest domestic politics trump their national interests and nonproliferation norms. 

The fact that the process continues despite such major obstacles testifies to the parties’ desire to reach agreement. But while political will is essential, it is not enough. If Iran continues to insist that it wants to retain and eventually increase its enrichment capacity and the P5+1 insist that Tehran should roll back and constrain its program for decades, talks will go nowhere. Iran should show more flexibility on reducing its enrichment program in the agreement’s early phases, when its fuel needs would still be minimal, in return for flexibility on allowing the program’s gradual growth. Increases could be pegged to objective measures, such as the amount of time that the United Nations nuclear watchdog requires to give Iran’s nuclear program a clean bill of health. Instead of trying to force the other side to agree with their fixed positions, negotiators should strive to broaden available options, a process that needs time.

Finally, extending the talks is much better than the alternatives: a return to an escalating cycle of more sanctions and more centrifuges, an Iranian bomb or bombing Iran. At the very least, a breakdown now would reduce the chance of success later, as it would erode trust, discredit politicians who are deeply invested in diplomacy and harden positions.

The region and the world are better off thanks to the interim agreement that Iran and the world powers signed last year. The parties, despite the extra time added to the clock, might not be able to reach a compromise that protects everyone’s core interests, contains Iran’s nuclear program and rehabilitates the country’s economy and international standing. But with the costs of failure and the benefits of success so high, they should stay on the field. 

ORIGINAL COMMENTARY (Al Jazeera)

Photo: European External Action Service/flickr

8 Jul
Iran’s Supreme Leader calls for more enrichment capacity | Michelle Moghtader and Fredrik Dahl
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday Iran would need to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, underlining a gap in positions between Tehran and world powers as they hold talks aimed at clinching a nuclear accord.
Iran and six major powers - the United States, Russia, France, Germany, China and Britain - have less than two weeks to bridge wide differences on the future scope of Iran’s enrichment program and other issues if they are to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline for a deal.
They resumed talks in Vienna last week and their negotiators continued meetings in the Austrian capital on Tuesday; but there was no immediate sign of any substantive progress.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Aslan Media/flickr

Iran’s Supreme Leader calls for more enrichment capacity | Michelle Moghtader and Fredrik Dahl

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday Iran would need to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, underlining a gap in positions between Tehran and world powers as they hold talks aimed at clinching a nuclear accord.

Iran and six major powers - the United States, Russia, France, Germany, China and Britain - have less than two weeks to bridge wide differences on the future scope of Iran’s enrichment program and other issues if they are to meet a self-imposed July 20 deadline for a deal.

They resumed talks in Vienna last week and their negotiators continued meetings in the Austrian capital on Tuesday; but there was no immediate sign of any substantive progress.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Aslan Media/flickr

3 Jul
Amid push for Iran nuclear deal, 2 sides maneuver to shift any blame | Paul Richter
Six world powers and Iran began a three-week push Wednesday to complete a deal aimed at stopping Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, but they also started positioning themselves to deflect blame if negotiations collapse.
With the talks in Vienna gridlocked since mid-May, senior Iranian and U.S. officials have stepped up claims that they made every effort to reach a compromise while the other side pressed unrealistic demands that made an agreement impossible.
After Secretary of State John F. Kerry wrote an op-ed article urging Iran to make new concessions, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif put out a YouTube video Wednesday in which he said the West pursued “a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last-minute concessions.”
FULL ARTICLE (L.A. Times)
Photo: European External Action Service/flickr

Amid push for Iran nuclear deal, 2 sides maneuver to shift any blame | Paul Richter

Six world powers and Iran began a three-week push Wednesday to complete a deal aimed at stopping Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, but they also started positioning themselves to deflect blame if negotiations collapse.

With the talks in Vienna gridlocked since mid-May, senior Iranian and U.S. officials have stepped up claims that they made every effort to reach a compromise while the other side pressed unrealistic demands that made an agreement impossible.

After Secretary of State John F. Kerry wrote an op-ed article urging Iran to make new concessions, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif put out a YouTube video Wednesday in which he said the West pursued “a game of chicken in an attempt to extract last-minute concessions.”

FULL ARTICLE (L.A. Times)

Photo: European External Action Service/flickr