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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Previewing Tomorrow’s High-Stakes Negotiations With Iran

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Oct 01, 2009

In Geneva, where the U.S. delegation has arrived in advance of tomorrow’s multilateral negotiation with Iran’s nuclear program, senior U.S. diplomats set expectations for the talks in a background briefing for reporters. The key points: the disclosure of the hidden nuclear facility at Qom has “strengthened the sense of purpose and unity amongst the 5+1 group,” an anonymous diplomat said, referring to the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. The talks must “establish whether the Iranians are ready to engage on the nuclear issue” and the Iranians must offer both “concrete steps toward transparency” and  “practical, tangible steps to build confidence in Iranian intentions.” The diplo said that the process can’t be “talks just for the sake of talks,” and Iran has to move “pretty quickly” build that confidence.

I think it’s pretty safe to predict that this is going to be an extraordinarily difficult process. I doubt that it’s going to be measured in terms of one meeting, although we’ll see how the Iranians approach the meeting tomorrow.

That’s a way of saying that the talks will establish either that there’s a basis for further diplomatic engagement — predicated on Iranian disclosure — or that the Iranians are not interested in disclosure and the P5+1 will consider more punitive measures like sanctions. So, what specifically does Iran have to begin to provide the P5+1?

One, as I mentioned, is to fulfill their obligations to the IAEA on Qom, on the clandestine facility.

They also have an obligation to be transparent about their entire nuclear program. In the past there was a period of time where they applied the Additional Protocol, which allowed for wider inspections by the IAEA in Iran. That’s certainly an example of the kind of thing that would help restore confidence.

But the bottom line is we need to see — not just we, but the international community needs to see — actions, not just words. Particularly in light of the most recent revelation.

At the same time, in addition to increased transparency, as I said, concrete steps to build confidence in the program too, whether it’s based on the proposal that we’ve had on the table for some time that begins with freeze-for-freeze or other kinds of ideas, but there have to be measureable results.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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