A US official downplays any hope of a breakthrough in talks this
week on the Iran nuclear program. Western negotiators are hoping for
some gesture of good faith from Iran.
In talks with Iran this week in Geneva, world powers including
the United States are looking for two things: a signal and a
First, the US and its five partners in the talks that started
Monday want a sign from Tehran that it is serious about reducing
tensions in the short term to allow for meaningful negotiations on
its nuclear program.
And second, the six powers - the US and the other four permanent
members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany - want a
commitment that any long-term negotiations would include Iran's
continuing uranium enrichment.
So far, the talks have gotten the Iranians to agree only to a
second day of talks Tuesday - which is one more day than they
In his remarks at the Monday meeting, Iranian negotiator Saeed
Jalili focused on last week's car-bombing assassination in Tehran of
a top Iranian nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari. The Iranian side
also wants any eventual negotiations to take up broader issues like
international terrorism and regional security.
What world powers want from Iran
Iran could give a positive short-term signal by agreeing to a
deal that would remove a substantial portion of its low-enriched
uranium stockpile and swap it with more-highly enriched fuel Iran
needs to run a medical research reactor in Tehran. Such a deal was
almost reached last October before disagreement over the timing of a
swap scuttled it.
Talks on such a deal could take up in the coming weeks in either
Geneva again or in Turkey, some diplomats have suggested.
"A fuel swap deal could be the kind of confidence-building step
needed to allow a process of serious negotiating to deepen in the
weeks and months ahead," says Daryl Kimball, executive director of
the Arms Control Association in Washington. "But that [fuel swap
deal] alone does not address the issues posed by the Iranian nuclear
The Obama administration has two main "priorities" for
substantive negotiations with Iran, Kimball says: one is to limit
the growth of Iran's enrichment capabilities, and the other is to
persuade Iran to accept an inspection and verification system on its
nuclear facilities that is "far more intrusive and far more
effective" than the one the International Atomic Energy Agency
currently has operating in Iran. …