Barbara Slavin reports: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif were all smiles after their historic 30-minute meeting on Sept. 26, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
But their optimism could fade quickly if the two sides fail to meet mutual expectations in Geneva next week. The Americans and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) are waiting for the Iranians to table a serious new proposal, while the Iranians expect to learn what they will receive in return, both immediately and at the end of the negotiating process.
Iranian officials in New York for UN meetings over the past two weeks have told the Americans that they are willing to offer significant concessions in Geneva on Oct. 15-16, but need to know “the endgame” before taking the first steps.
European diplomats have told Al-Monitor that the P5+1 are still debating how to respond to various possible initial Iranian concessions.
The crux of a deal is likely to be international acknowledgement that Iran can continue enriching uranium at a low level under stringent conditions. In the short term, Iranians appear to be expecting US President Barack Obama to waive or slow implementation of some punishing sanctions in return for curbing or suspending key elements of their nuclear program; at the end, they envision removal of all nuclear-related penalties on Iran’s oil exports and international financial transactions in exchange for permanent limits on the program and enhanced international monitoring. [Continue reading…]