Matthew Duss writes: Talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany resume again this weekend, with Tehran giving hints that it may take a more constructive attitude to negotiations than it did during the previous round in 2011. Iranian nuclear officials have suggested that Iran might curtail its 20 percent uranium enrichment program, which would meet almost halfway the expected demands of the United States and its so-called P5+1 negotiating partners.
The United States and its allies reportedly plan to demand the immediate cessation of uranium enrichment to 20 percent, and a closure of the hardened Fordow enrichment plant, possibly in exchange for promises of no further sanctions. If the United States and its international partners are able to achieve these objectives, they will significantly slow Iran’s progress toward having the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, score a victory for the two-track policy of diplomacy and economic pressure, and provide a template for more fully resolving outstanding issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear program in future talks.
Will that happen? Predicting the future is a fool’s game, but it’s important to recognize that the United States and its partners are going into talks with Iran this weekend in a position of strength that would have been hard to imagine four short years ago. This is in large part thanks to the Obama administration’s hard diplomatic work rebuilding alliances and, importantly, its demonstrated willingness to engage in good faith with the Iranian regime.