Showing posts tagged as "nuclear talks"

Showing posts tagged nuclear talks

11 Nov
Radio France International

Ali Vaez on Iran nuclear talks

Analyst Ali Vaez spoke to Radio France International about this weekend’s nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1.

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Iran nuclear negotiations at crucial juncture over Arak reactor | Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan
The fate of Iran’s heavy-water reactor has become a sticking point in high-level nuclear negotiations in Geneva, according to the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.
The Iranian delegation is believed to have presented western powers with a draft text of an agreement on Friday, which is now the focus of the negotiation. But Fabius told France Inter radio on Saturday that Paris would not accept a “sucker’s deal”. He said: “As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude.”
FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian) 
Photo: United Nations - Geneva/Flickr

Iran nuclear negotiations at crucial juncture over Arak reactor | Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan

The fate of Iran’s heavy-water reactor has become a sticking point in high-level nuclear negotiations in Geneva, according to the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius.

The Iranian delegation is believed to have presented western powers with a draft text of an agreement on Friday, which is now the focus of the negotiation. But Fabius told France Inter radio on Saturday that Paris would not accept a “sucker’s deal”. He said: “As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude.”

FULL ARTICLE (The Guardian) 

Photo: United Nations - Geneva/Flickr

21 Oct
All Sides Say Iran Talks Get Serious While Long Road Remains | Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Kambiz Foroohar and Jonathan Tirone
The pace of talks on Iran’s nuclear program picked up after a two-day meeting in Geneva, as the participants described a new level of intensity in negotiations and agreed to reconvene next month.
U.S. and European diplomats said the discussions, the first since Hassan Rouhani was elected president and pledged to repair Iran’s global standing, went into more detail than previous rounds and took place in a better atmosphere. Specialists will meet on technical and sanctions-related aspects of the proposals before Nov. 7, when political talks will resume in the Swiss city.
FULL ARTICLE (Businessweek) 
Photo: Flickr/European External Action Service - EEAS

All Sides Say Iran Talks Get Serious While Long Road Remains | Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, Kambiz Foroohar and Jonathan Tirone

The pace of talks on Iran’s nuclear program picked up after a two-day meeting in Geneva, as the participants described a new level of intensity in negotiations and agreed to reconvene next month.

U.S. and European diplomats said the discussions, the first since Hassan Rouhani was elected president and pledged to repair Iran’s global standing, went into more detail than previous rounds and took place in a better atmosphere. Specialists will meet on technical and sanctions-related aspects of the proposals before Nov. 7, when political talks will resume in the Swiss city.

FULL ARTICLE (Businessweek) 

Photo: Flickr/European External Action Service - EEAS

6 Sep
Syria Crisis Yet to Derail Iran Nuclear Talks | Jasmin Ramsey
Even with potential U.S. strikes against Iranian ally Syria looming, Washington and Tehran appear to be preparing for the resumption of nuclear talks.
U.S. foreign policy analysts have been bustling since the Aug. 4 inauguration of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who may have ushered in a new era of Iranian diplomacy and international relations.
“Syria has become Iran’s Vietnam, and [Bashar al-] Assad’s extensive use of chemical weapons, in equal parts amoral and stupid, had magnified Tehran’s quandary.” — Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies
“As the architect of the sole nuclear agreement between Iran and the West  – a not inconsiderable achievement given the depth of mistrust –  Rouhani presents a real chance for making progress in nuclear talks,” Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group, told IPS.
FULL ARTICLE (Inter Press Service) 
Photo: European External Action Service - EEAS/Flickr

Syria Crisis Yet to Derail Iran Nuclear Talks | Jasmin Ramsey

Even with potential U.S. strikes against Iranian ally Syria looming, Washington and Tehran appear to be preparing for the resumption of nuclear talks.

U.S. foreign policy analysts have been bustling since the Aug. 4 inauguration of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who may have ushered in a new era of Iranian diplomacy and international relations.

“Syria has become Iran’s Vietnam, and [Bashar al-] Assad’s extensive use of chemical weapons, in equal parts amoral and stupid, had magnified Tehran’s quandary.” — Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies

“As the architect of the sole nuclear agreement between Iran and the West – a not inconsiderable achievement given the depth of mistrust –  Rouhani presents a real chance for making progress in nuclear talks,” Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group, told IPS.

FULL ARTICLE (Inter Press Service) 

Photo: European External Action Service - EEAS/Flickr

16 Jul
US must not miss new opportunity to engage with Iran
by Ali Vaez, Senior Iran Analyst
Squandering any opportunity for détente has been the norm in US-Iran relations during the past three decades. Iranians missed a major opening when President Obama came to power in 2009. Americans – especially as they meet with their allies in Brussels today to discuss next steps in nuclear negotiations with Tehran – should avoid a redux with Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani.
FULL ARTICLE (Christian Science Monitor)
Photo: Mojtaba Salimi / Wikimedia Commons

US must not miss new opportunity to engage with Iran

by Ali Vaez, Senior Iran Analyst

Squandering any opportunity for détente has been the norm in US-Iran relations during the past three decades. Iranians missed a major opening when President Obama came to power in 2009. Americans – especially as they meet with their allies in Brussels today to discuss next steps in nuclear negotiations with Tehran – should avoid a redux with Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani.

FULL ARTICLE (Christian Science Monitor)

Photo: Mojtaba Salimi / Wikimedia Commons

5 Apr
Iran, big powers appear miles apart at nuclear talks | Reuters
By Yeganeh Torbati and Justyna Pawlak
Iran appeared to side-step responding to proposals by world powers to defuse tensions over its nuclear program at talks in Kazakhstan on Friday, diplomats said, and instead came up with its own plan - a measure of the gulf between the two sides.
The six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - had sought a concrete response from Iran to their February offer of modest sanctions relief if Tehran stops its most contentious nuclear work.
But instead Iranian negotiators outlined their own “specific” plan to resolve the dispute, which has been plagued by mutual mistrust and on-off negotiations for a decade.
FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)
Photo: Marjolein Katsma/Flickr

Iran, big powers appear miles apart at nuclear talks | Reuters

By Yeganeh Torbati and Justyna Pawlak

Iran appeared to side-step responding to proposals by world powers to defuse tensions over its nuclear program at talks in Kazakhstan on Friday, diplomats said, and instead came up with its own plan - a measure of the gulf between the two sides.

The six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - had sought a concrete response from Iran to their February offer of modest sanctions relief if Tehran stops its most contentious nuclear work.

But instead Iranian negotiators outlined their own “specific” plan to resolve the dispute, which has been plagued by mutual mistrust and on-off negotiations for a decade.

FULL ARTICLE (Reuters)

Photo: Marjolein Katsma/Flickr

Iran Signals Flexibility as World Powers Seek Progress | Bloomberg
By Jonathan Tirone & Indira A.R. Lakshmanan 
Iran countered a proposal intended to address concerns over the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear ambitions by urging world powers to outline their vision for bringing the decade-long dispute to an end.
Iran wants to define the “dimensions” of the negotiating process as well as its “final outcome,” Ali Bagheri, deputy secretary of Iran’s supreme national security council, said today in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where a new round of talks began. The Islamic republic’s counterparts said earlier they expected “concrete” progress from the meeting.
“Confidence-building measures are measures that both sides in an agreement need to take,” Bagheri said through a translator. “They are part of a comprehensive set of measures.”
While Iran seeks a lifting of sanctions saddling its economy, world powers have offered some easing of the restrictions in return for halting atomic work they say may enable weapons production. Iran’s nuclear costs, estimated at $100 billion and rising, may make compromise more difficult as diplomats seek a breakthrough in Kazakhstan.
FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)
Photo: Flickr/European External Action Service

Iran Signals Flexibility as World Powers Seek Progress | Bloomberg

By Jonathan Tirone & Indira A.R. Lakshmanan 

Iran countered a proposal intended to address concerns over the Persian Gulf country’s nuclear ambitions by urging world powers to outline their vision for bringing the decade-long dispute to an end.

Iran wants to define the “dimensions” of the negotiating process as well as its “final outcome,” Ali Bagheri, deputy secretary of Iran’s supreme national security council, said today in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where a new round of talks began. The Islamic republic’s counterparts said earlier they expected “concrete” progress from the meeting.

“Confidence-building measures are measures that both sides in an agreement need to take,” Bagheri said through a translator. “They are part of a comprehensive set of measures.”

While Iran seeks a lifting of sanctions saddling its economy, world powers have offered some easing of the restrictions in return for halting atomic work they say may enable weapons production. Iran’s nuclear costs, estimated at $100 billion and rising, may make compromise more difficult as diplomats seek a breakthrough in Kazakhstan.

FULL ARTICLE (Bloomberg)

Photo: Flickr/European External Action Service

3 Apr
Iran and world powers should focus on action steps for short-term agreement | The Christian Science Monitor
By Ali Vaez 
Something changed in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers last month in Almaty, Kazakhstan. For the first time, the two sides negotiated in earnest.
Gone were the preconditions and meandering lectures of the past. Instead of maximalist upfront demands in return for nebulous future rewards, the envoys discussed explicit quid-pro-quo options. Both sides described the meetings with adjectives ranging from “useful” to “pivotal”.
Yet the follow-up 13.5-hour meeting in Istanbul between the parties’ arms control officials revealed that a great gulf remains in expectations. It was a sobering reminder that the diplomatic process is as fragile as the prospect of an agreement is elusive. Misperception and brinkmanship might yet make this opening another instance of what historian G.M. Tevelyan called “the turning point at which history fails to turn.”
FULL ARTICLE (The Christian Science Monitor)
Photo: Flickr/European External Action Service

Iran and world powers should focus on action steps for short-term agreement | The Christian Science Monitor

By Ali Vaez 

Something changed in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers last month in Almaty, Kazakhstan. For the first time, the two sides negotiated in earnest.

Gone were the preconditions and meandering lectures of the past. Instead of maximalist upfront demands in return for nebulous future rewards, the envoys discussed explicit quid-pro-quo options. Both sides described the meetings with adjectives ranging from “useful” to “pivotal”.

Yet the follow-up 13.5-hour meeting in Istanbul between the parties’ arms control officials revealed that a great gulf remains in expectations. It was a sobering reminder that the diplomatic process is as fragile as the prospect of an agreement is elusive. Misperception and brinkmanship might yet make this opening another instance of what historian G.M. Tevelyan called “the turning point at which history fails to turn.”

FULL ARTICLE (The Christian Science Monitor)

Photo: Flickr/European External Action Service

16 Jul
Analysis: U.N.’s Iran atom probe “hostage” to big power diplomacy | Reuters
By Fredrik Dahl
Offering immunity or an easing of the sanctions pressure may be the only way - if there is one at all - to coax Iran to end years of stonewalling a U.N. watchdog investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research in the Islamic state.
FULL ARTICLE (REUTERS)
Photo: openDemocracy/Flickr

Analysis: U.N.’s Iran atom probe “hostage” to big power diplomacy | Reuters

By Fredrik Dahl

Offering immunity or an easing of the sanctions pressure may be the only way - if there is one at all - to coax Iran to end years of stonewalling a U.N. watchdog investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research in the Islamic state.

FULL ARTICLE (REUTERS)

Photo: openDemocracy/Flickr

3 Jul
Comment | Why the Next Round of Iran Nuclear Talks Could Yield Results | Al-Monitor
By ALI VAEZ
The latest round of nuclear negotiations in Moscow between Iran and major world powers yielded little more than a follow-on meeting at the level of experts. Interpretations of the outcome vary. For the hawks in Tehran and Washington, downgrading the level of talks was further proof of the futility of nuclear diplomacy. For the doves, it was another missed opportunity with ominous repercussions. Given the mismatched expectations and, at times, misguided perceptions on both sides, a breakthrough in Moscow was never really likely. Still, the prospects of reaching a limited negotiated solution may not be as bleak as they appear.
A quick review of the negotiating process between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – the P5+1 – is instructive. This new round of nuclear diplomacy was forged in the old crucible of misapprehensions between Iran and the West. Going into the talks, both sides were persuaded that they had the upper hand. In mirror image, each party saw the other’s renewed interest in diplomacy as a sign of weakness and an attempt to avert further escalation in volatile times.
The first meeting in Istanbul focused on generalities. The next round, in Baghdad, saw the two sides formally exchange proposals – comprised mainly of opening salvos based on maximalist demands. The P5+1 put forward a three-pronged request: that Iran halt all 20 percent uranium enrichment; ship its 20 percent stockpile out of the country; and shut down bunker enrichment facility in Fordow. In return it is said to have committed not to impose new sanctions as well as offered to ease Iran’s access to aircraft spare parts, provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor and extend cooperation on nuclear safety. Iran judged the P5+1’s proposal “outdated, not comprehensive, and unbalanced,” and instead demanded an explicit recognition of its rights to peaceful nuclear energy under the NPT. Reportedly, the Iranian negotiators also presented a “comprehensive” five-point package covering nuclear and non-nuclear-related matters. Iran’s offer reportedly included, inter alia, increasing cooperation with the IAEA, capping enrichment to 5 per cent, participation in an international consortium for nuclear activities and cooperation on regional security issues such as the situations in Syria and Bahrain.
It was during the third meeting in Moscow that for the first time the negotiating parties engaged in substantive discussions over their proposed packages. No agreement was reached, but in retrospect the diplomatic march has followed a logical path: gradually moving from stagnation and no dialogue to a clearer understanding of the other side’s perspectives. Although the two parties remain poles apart, getting rid of chimerical expectations could be an achievement in itself. Tehran now knows that the damaging momentum of sanctions cannot be stifled with a few reversible confidence building measures. Similarly, Washington and Brussels have realized that while sanctions are taking their toll, they are unlikely to force Iran to compromise.
It appears that the decision to continue the discussion at a lower level emanates from this sense of realism. But even if it was an eleventh-hour attempt to buy time and stave off an Israeli military attack, the series of sporadic and high-level meetings had slender chance for success. Short and haphazard sittings among senior representatives left too many gaps, which were filled with posturing and political brinksmanship in the interregnum between the talks. In contrast, technical meetings can take place in a less charged atmosphere. As such, they could offer a suitable avenue for essential duologue between Iranian and American negotiators, without the fear of stirring up a political hornet’s nest back home.
Make no mistake: the issue at the crux of Iran’s nuclear crisis is politics, not physics. But while common ground between the two sides on political issues is extremely narrow, if not inexistent, there is room for maneuver in the technical realm. For instance, both Iran and the P5+1 appear amenable to a compromise on curbing Tehran’s uranium enrichment activities at the 20 per cent level, which provides a shortcut to weapons-grade fissile material. Given that Iran already has produced nearly the same amount of fissile material that it sought to buy on the international market in 2009 (nearly 120kg), it should be prepared to suspend such activity and convert its entire stockpile of 20 percent uranium hexafluoride into uranium dioxide pellets, used for nuclear fuel fabrication, which is less prone to proliferation. In return, the P5+1 should be prepared to provide Iran with medical isotopes needed for the treatment of 850,000 cancer patients as well as cutting-edge nuclear fuel manufacturing technology. This deal would both provide Iran with advanced nuclear technology for its stated goal of nuclear fuel production while addressing the P5+1’s proliferation concerns.
Such a technical agreement will not resolve Iran’s nuclear standoff, but can buy time and space for the negotiators to discuss more intricate issues such as freezing installation of new centrifuges in Fordow and reversal and easing of draconian sanctions.
For the July 3 expert level meetings in Istanbul to succeed, a shift is required to transform positional to principal bargaining based on the following considerations:
- First, technical discussions should not consist of a one-off meeting. Talks should be continuous and away from the spotlight. These meetings should be followed by discussions at the level of political experts and deputies. The decade-long Gordian knot of Iran’s nuclear program requires more than a few meetings to untie.
- Second, the envoys should be mindful of the bicycle principle that you either move forward or fall down. It would be very difficult to sustain the negotiations if there were no progress, especially given domestic constraints in Tehran and Washington as well as Israel’s impatience. Small progress, even if not on the most urgent issues, is better than absolute deadlock. In fact, in the words of Henry Kissinger, the negotiators should devise techniques to keep the urgent from driving away all consideration of the important.
- Finally, with the European oil embargo and the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s central bank now effective, the July 3 meeting could be the last opportunity to stop the dangerous march toward escalation. If a limited understanding is not reached between the two sides sometime in early July, parallel escalation is to be expected from the Iranian side – whether augmenting its stock of 20 per cent enriched uranium or even enriching at higher levels. This would further fuel tensions and dim the prospects of an agreement.
Rather than more brinkmanship, both sides should embrace the technical-level negotiations this week and use it to achieve a limited agreement. Progress there, and in further technical talks could pave the way toward the more comprehensive solution that has eluded negotiators since 2003.
FULL ARTICLE (Al-Monitor)
Photo: REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Comment | Why the Next Round of Iran Nuclear Talks Could Yield Results | Al-Monitor

By ALI VAEZ

The latest round of nuclear negotiations in Moscow between Iran and major world powers yielded little more than a follow-on meeting at the level of experts. Interpretations of the outcome vary. For the hawks in Tehran and Washington, downgrading the level of talks was further proof of the futility of nuclear diplomacy. For the doves, it was another missed opportunity with ominous repercussions. Given the mismatched expectations and, at times, misguided perceptions on both sides, a breakthrough in Moscow was never really likely. Still, the prospects of reaching a limited negotiated solution may not be as bleak as they appear.

A quick review of the negotiating process between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – the P5+1 – is instructive. This new round of nuclear diplomacy was forged in the old crucible of misapprehensions between Iran and the West. Going into the talks, both sides were persuaded that they had the upper hand. In mirror image, each party saw the other’s renewed interest in diplomacy as a sign of weakness and an attempt to avert further escalation in volatile times.

The first meeting in Istanbul focused on generalities. The next round, in Baghdad, saw the two sides formally exchange proposals – comprised mainly of opening salvos based on maximalist demands. The P5+1 put forward a three-pronged request: that Iran halt all 20 percent uranium enrichment; ship its 20 percent stockpile out of the country; and shut down bunker enrichment facility in Fordow. In return it is said to have committed not to impose new sanctions as well as offered to ease Iran’s access to aircraft spare parts, provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor and extend cooperation on nuclear safety. Iran judged the P5+1’s proposal “outdated, not comprehensive, and unbalanced,” and instead demanded an explicit recognition of its rights to peaceful nuclear energy under the NPT. Reportedly, the Iranian negotiators also presented a “comprehensive” five-point package covering nuclear and non-nuclear-related matters. Iran’s offer reportedly included, inter alia, increasing cooperation with the IAEA, capping enrichment to 5 per cent, participation in an international consortium for nuclear activities and cooperation on regional security issues such as the situations in Syria and Bahrain.

It was during the third meeting in Moscow that for the first time the negotiating parties engaged in substantive discussions over their proposed packages. No agreement was reached, but in retrospect the diplomatic march has followed a logical path: gradually moving from stagnation and no dialogue to a clearer understanding of the other side’s perspectives. Although the two parties remain poles apart, getting rid of chimerical expectations could be an achievement in itself. Tehran now knows that the damaging momentum of sanctions cannot be stifled with a few reversible confidence building measures. Similarly, Washington and Brussels have realized that while sanctions are taking their toll, they are unlikely to force Iran to compromise.

It appears that the decision to continue the discussion at a lower level emanates from this sense of realism. But even if it was an eleventh-hour attempt to buy time and stave off an Israeli military attack, the series of sporadic and high-level meetings had slender chance for success. Short and haphazard sittings among senior representatives left too many gaps, which were filled with posturing and political brinksmanship in the interregnum between the talks. In contrast, technical meetings can take place in a less charged atmosphere. As such, they could offer a suitable avenue for essential duologue between Iranian and American negotiators, without the fear of stirring up a political hornet’s nest back home.

Make no mistake: the issue at the crux of Iran’s nuclear crisis is politics, not physics. But while common ground between the two sides on political issues is extremely narrow, if not inexistent, there is room for maneuver in the technical realm. For instance, both Iran and the P5+1 appear amenable to a compromise on curbing Tehran’s uranium enrichment activities at the 20 per cent level, which provides a shortcut to weapons-grade fissile material. Given that Iran already has produced nearly the same amount of fissile material that it sought to buy on the international market in 2009 (nearly 120kg), it should be prepared to suspend such activity and convert its entire stockpile of 20 percent uranium hexafluoride into uranium dioxide pellets, used for nuclear fuel fabrication, which is less prone to proliferation. In return, the P5+1 should be prepared to provide Iran with medical isotopes needed for the treatment of 850,000 cancer patients as well as cutting-edge nuclear fuel manufacturing technology. This deal would both provide Iran with advanced nuclear technology for its stated goal of nuclear fuel production while addressing the P5+1’s proliferation concerns.

Such a technical agreement will not resolve Iran’s nuclear standoff, but can buy time and space for the negotiators to discuss more intricate issues such as freezing installation of new centrifuges in Fordow and reversal and easing of draconian sanctions.

For the July 3 expert level meetings in Istanbul to succeed, a shift is required to transform positional to principal bargaining based on the following considerations:

- First, technical discussions should not consist of a one-off meeting. Talks should be continuous and away from the spotlight. These meetings should be followed by discussions at the level of political experts and deputies. The decade-long Gordian knot of Iran’s nuclear program requires more than a few meetings to untie.

- Second, the envoys should be mindful of the bicycle principle that you either move forward or fall down. It would be very difficult to sustain the negotiations if there were no progress, especially given domestic constraints in Tehran and Washington as well as Israel’s impatience. Small progress, even if not on the most urgent issues, is better than absolute deadlock. In fact, in the words of Henry Kissinger, the negotiators should devise techniques to keep the urgent from driving away all consideration of the important.

- Finally, with the European oil embargo and the U.S. sanctions on Iran’s central bank now effective, the July 3 meeting could be the last opportunity to stop the dangerous march toward escalation. If a limited understanding is not reached between the two sides sometime in early July, parallel escalation is to be expected from the Iranian side – whether augmenting its stock of 20 per cent enriched uranium or even enriching at higher levels. This would further fuel tensions and dim the prospects of an agreement.

Rather than more brinkmanship, both sides should embrace the technical-level negotiations this week and use it to achieve a limited agreement. Progress there, and in further technical talks could pave the way toward the more comprehensive solution that has eluded negotiators since 2003.

FULL ARTICLE (Al-Monitor)

Photo: REUTERS/Herwig Prammer