Respect is crucial in nuclear talks with Iran

Hossein Mousavian and Mohammad Ali Shabani write: After a decade, we are nearing an endgame on Iran’s nuclear file. The initial positive atmosphere during Tehran’s talks with the P5+1 (the five members of the UN security council plus Germany) in Istanbul in April had been lost by the next round of talks in Baghdad, in May.

In Istanbul all the players seemed to understand that the most important issue was trust – not the number of centrifuges in the Islamic republic’s possession. This was displayed through the announcement of EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, that negotiations would be held on the basis of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT, which recognises Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes). Such mutual respect must be the basis of any dialogue, and future agreement.

Yet in Baghdad it became obvious there was a long road ahead when the P5+1 went in demanding the maximum concessions from Iran, in return for making minimal concessions themselves. The Iranian negotiators were offered merely spare parts for passenger planes and help with acquiring a light water reactor. In exchange the P5+1 wanted Iran to stop enriching uranium to 19.75% (medium enriched uranium), export all such material, halt operations at the Fordo plant and allow IAEA inspectors to visit sensitive military sites.

This trade-off was considered an insult by the Iranians. And the P5+1’s incentive of fuel plates (uranium enriched to 19.75% moulded into plates) or the Tehran research reactor – which could have been attractive to Iran as recently as 2010, when it hadn’t mastered the technology to manufacture such fuel on its own – didn’t improve the mood. Luckily, this did not lead to the dialogue collapsing. [Continue reading…]

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