Six global powers will launch a new diplomatic push after the US elections aimed at defusing the Iranian nuclear crisis in the next few months and avoiding the eruption of a new West Asian conflict next year.
A “reformulated” proposal will offer limited relief from existing sanctions and other incentives for Iran to limit the level of enrichment of its uranium stockpile. A new attempt will be made to sequence the steps required to reach a deal to overcome the mutual distrust that helped sink previous rounds of negotiations, where each side appeared to wait for the other to make the first major concession.
“We recognise that the Iranians need something more with which they can sell a deal at home, and we will expect real change on the other side. It is about getting the sequencing right. That is what this next round will be about,” a European official said.
“If Iran is prepared to do enough, sanctions will be on the table,” another western diplomat said. “It shouldn’t expect the [the six-power group] to blink first — but if it’s ready to take genuine steps, we’re ready to respond. This could include sanctions relief — but only for the right moves by Iran. Sanctions are biting in Tehran and we’re not going to lift them without making solid progress on our concerns.”
If the step-by-step approach fails, there could be an attempt to “go big” with an ambitious, comprehensive settlement that would allow Iran to continue producing uranium at low levels (under 5%) of enrichment but under stricter international monitoring and controls.
“Currently we are stalled because Iran is asking too much and offering nothing in return. One way forward might be for Iran to offer much more and make an accordingly bigger demand at the same time,” the western diplomat said.
Officials involved in the nuclear talks believe there is a window of opportunity for diplomacy between the US elections on November 6 and next spring.
Guardian News Service