The Geneva nuclear talks were just baby steps along a long and perilous path. Still, this was a historic moment after 30 years of mutual recriminations and hyperbole.
If you have any doubt that the Geneva meetings with Iran were surprisingly productive, just go back and look at the commentary the day before they began. Even allowing for the fact that the United States and its negotiating partners (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany–the P5+1–plus European Union negotiator Javier Solana) were trying to lower expectations to the political equivalent of absolute zero, it was still difficult to find anyone who anticipated anything like real progress. Yet that is what happened.
Iran had issued a bland five-page document that scarcely mentioned the nuclear issue. They insisted that the newly discovered Qom enrichment site was not only perfectly legal but utterly routine. They let it be known that they had no intention of discussing their own nuclear program in these talks. Yet, from the accounts we have so far, it appears that Iran came prepared to make concessions about Qom, permitting IAEA inspections to begin within the next two weeks or so. As for their nuclear program, almost nothing else seems to have been discussed. [continued…]