The P5+1 (or EU3+3) are meeting with Iran today.
As the last week has drawn on, leaks and other indicators pointed toward the offer that the P5+1 are making:
Iran stops enriching uranium to 20%
P5+1 provide fuel and upgrades to Tehran research reactor
P5+1 provide a new research reactor
P5+1 provide safety upgrades for Bushehr reactor
P5+1 resume trade in parts for airliners
It’s not clear what the Iranian counteroffer is. Not much is being said by the negotiators to the media, a good sign.
If the talks continue longer than expected, that also points to serious negotiations and potential progress. They have gone late into the night and may continue tomorrow.
There have been far more words written than are worth reading. Many of them repeat conventional wisdom, whether that is that negotiating is better than war or that Iran isn’t offering enough. Remarkably, that last was showing up long before any of us had any idea what Iran is offering.
Even the better op-eds reiterate the obvious. I suspect that this results from the demand of editors that there be a wrapup paragraph at the end. It may even originate in the uneasy feeling that something like that is needed; I’ve struggled with that feeling and have decided to allow my posts to end indecisively because we just don’t know how this is going to go.
So Reza Marishi presents a thoughtful analysis of effect of internal politics of Iran and the United States on the negotiations (read it all) and winds up with a last paragraph of platitudes:
There is only one way to break a 34-year-old deadlock: break the rules. America and Iran must talk to each other and trade compromises of equal value in order to break down the hostility and misperceptions that paralyze our relations. Only by taking risks for peace will leaders in Washington and Tehran have the necessary deliverables to beat back critics and spoilers. The three-decade long status quo has brought us to the precipice of war and economic catastrophe. Negotiation is difficult and time consuming, but in the end there is no other way to walk back from that precipice.
After putting forth a number of good ideas, Thomas Pickering and William Luers provide a weak windup:
If Obama were to take the lead in reshaping the setting and the process by which the US and others talk with Iran, progress could become easier. The Istanbul talks opened the door to an initial – if incremental – breakthrough agreement. The US now has an opportunity to establish new ways to explore common ground and reach a more durable political solution.
If America and Iran would talk honestly and frankly with each other. If Obama would take the lead. Negotiation is difficult, but the alternative is worse. We now have an opportunity.
And if all those if’s were true, then there wouldn’t be a problem. There have been reachings-out by both sides in the past, and they were rebuffed by the other. It gets harder to take risks after a few of those.
Speaking of which, here is a good background article. It’s an interview with Hassan Fereydoon Rowhani, who was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator during the second term of former President Mohammad Khatami. There’s a lot there that I might comment on later. (h/t to Paul Kerr)