On eve of Iran talks, optimism on initial agreement
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
November 6th, 2013
10:02 PM ET

On eve of Iran talks, optimism on initial agreement

By Elise Labott

World powers and Iran hope to reach an initial agreement at talks this week on Tehran’s nuclear program, diplomats and Iran’s foreign minister said.

If Iran agrees at talks in Geneva to take steps toward curbing its nuclear program, a senior U.S. administration official said Iran could see some relief from economic sanctions that have crippled its economy

"What we're looking for is a first phase, a first step, an initial understanding that stops Iran's nuclear program from moving forward and rolls it back for first time in decades," the senior U.S. administration official told reporters in Geneva on the eve of a fresh round talks between Iran and world powers.

In exchange, Washington would be willing to offer Iran "very limited, temporary, reversible sanctions relief,” the official said.

On Thursday, the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain - as well as Germany will hold talks Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Diplomats said they expected Zarif to present a roadmap for a nuclear deal aimed at convincing the international community it is not seeking a nuclear weapon.

The official said there had been a “key shift” from Tehran, which seemed serious about reaching a deal.  This official, and other Western diplomats said, an initial agreement that addressed Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20%, its growing stockpiles of enriched uranium and international monitoring create space for negotiations on a comprehensive deal.

With Iran’s nuclear program continuing to develop, Undersecretary Wendy Sherman, the lead American negotiator, said it was important to pick up the pace of the negotiations.

“I think we can make rapid progress to bring a halt to any advance in the program, which will put time on the clock to allow us to negotiate a comprehensive agreement,” Under Secretary Wendy Sherman, the lead American negotiator, told the television network al- Arabiya this week.

Another senior  Western diplomat said the world powers negotiating with Iran believe a quick framework agreement, implemented  in stages, would be preferable to confidence-building measures by both sides in the hopes of developing enough trust to reach a deal later.

“You have a global package, you have a clear view of the end game. And then you build on not confidence building measures, but steps to get to the end game. Then you change the equation, and then, it seems to us, it is more serious,” the diplomat said. “The clock is ticking . (Iranian) centrifuges continue working, so we want quick results. And on the Iranian side that is what they say they want. “

In interviews after his meeting in Paris with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Zarif voiced optimism a deal was possible during this week’s round of talks.

But I can only talk for our side,” Zarif added. “I cannot talk for the other side.”

In an interview with Le Monde, Zarif said "If that's not the case, it's not a disaster as long as we make progress," he added.

Iran has been on a charm offensive since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has made lifting tough economic sanctions against his country a priority. During a visit to the U.N. General Assembly in September, Rouhani’ s moderate diplomatic approach raised hopes in the West of a thaw in relations with Tehran and progress in negotiations on its nuclear program.

Rouhani’ s visit culminated in a phone call with U.S. President Barack Obama and a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif. It was the first such high-level contact between the two sworn enemies since Iran's 1979 revolution, which sent relations between the two into a deep freeze.

At the previous round of talks in Geneva last month, Iran presented a framework for negotiations that American negotiators called “detailed and substantive”. The tone of the negotiations appeared to signal a shift, a departure from the diplomatic standoff that prevailed under former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The world powers, known as the P5+1, have offered a package of economic incentives to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

In exchange for easing some sanctions, the group wants Tehran to shut its underground enrichment facility at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.

The group also wants Iran to ship its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20% purity, seen as a jumping part to producing weapons-grade uranium.

Iran wants the international community to acknowledge its right to enrich uranium under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The six negotiating countries group has balked at that, although privately some diplomats say a final deal could allow Iran to enrich uranium to a low purity, such as 3% to 5%.

They also proposed fuel for a medical reactor and easing sanctions on aviation spare parts as part of the deal.

In the lead-up to this week’s talks, technical experts from the six powers and Iran have to discuss the details of a  possible agreement. Senior administration officials said that American sanctions experts met with the Iranian team to discuss the range of U.S. sanctions and the possibility of sanctions relief. Diplomats said possible measures under consideration involve a temporary unfreezing of some seized Iranian assets worldwide, in addition to possible lifting of sanctions barring trade with Iran in gold and other precious metals and petrochemicals.

But  diplomats cautioned against offering too many incentives to Iran in the latest negotiations, calling sanctions the “best leverage” the international community has in forcing Iran to place curbs on its program.

“There could be a positive outcome if we remain strong.   The last thing would be to give up too early in terms of sanctions, because then the Iranian regime will feel the pressure is weaker and they will try to achieve as much as they can,” one Western diplomat said. “The key word is reciprocity,. What they are asking for now, quite frankly, is nice words on their side, or  reversible measures against the lifting of sanctions. That is simply not reasonable. We have some demands, and they have to comply with those demands. It is not a game.”

Any plan to relax the sanctions against Iran is likely to meet stiff opposition from Israel, which asserts that Tehran is only months away from developing a nuclear weapon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Kerry in Jerusalem on Tuesday, warned against easing up on the pressure against Iran while it continued its nuclear development.

“I’d be very worried with any partial deals that enable Iran to maintain those capabilities but begin to reduce sanctions because I think this could undermine the longevity and durability of the sanctions regime,” he said. “I believe that as long as they continue their goal to enrich uranium, to get nuclear weapons, the pressure should be maintained and even increased.”

Kerry reiterated the U.S. goal of a deal that ensures Iran has “no capacity to produce a weapon of mass destruction.”

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” he told the Israeli leader.

Members from both parties in Congress have urged the administration not to prematurely loosen any of the sanctions that are choking Iran's economy. Legislation is being drafted that could tighten the sanctions regime until a deal is reached.

“Tough sanctions are exactly what has brought Iran to the table now, and tightening sanctions as we engage diplomatically affords us the opportunity to apply further pressure and force Iran’s leaders to choose between regime survival and a nuclear weapon,”
wrote Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, in an op-ed for Politico. Rubio has been a strong proponent of additional sanctions against Iran.

The Obama administration has urged Congress to hold off on additional measures to provide them flexibility during the talks. Other diplomats agreed that while the threat of additional sanctions might be helpful, the passing of new legislation would not help establish trust with Iran at a critical point.

“We consider it would be a mistake,” one diplomat said. “That would be the best way to destroy any chance of negotiations.”


Filed under: Diplomacy • Iran • Nuclear • Sanctions • Sec. State John Kerry
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    Let's all agree on what a terrorist is such as the Art of War builds such as the Profit $$$ (MO-HAM-DID) ordered is the construction of the Army of Islam the Worlds oldest surviving Military.

    .

    November 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  2. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    Who anywhere at any time ever said that Iran is not IS NOT a terrorist state...Nobody.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  3. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    Terrorists are Muslium & Musliums are Terrorists...

    November 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  4. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    Iran is a State...one of terror as the Jon Boy Smiths hacker script admits...Terror by Iran in Iran is Iranian Terror....

    November 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  5. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    America is not a State...

    November 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Reply
  6. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    You can't even point to America on a map...no one can...Jon smiths "Bot" script can't point to America eather.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  7. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    The "supreme" court can work for free also...

    November 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  8. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    All of the militarys domestic standing agencys should be completely defunded...after all the SS paid their own way.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  9. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  10. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    IF EVERYTHING IS SUCH A BIG BIG SECRET HOW CAN THERE BE ANY STANDARD...YOU KNOW WHEN YOU JUDGE SOMEONE THAT PERSON CANT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT IS ALL A BIG BIG SECRET HOW IS THAT A STANDARD.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  11. Farid

    This regime murdered a lot of US soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Reply
  12. Hamid

    How they can trust the promise ! of those liars.
    They promise to the Iranian every day and then break it very easily!

    November 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  13. Jtrhtr Rkhhg

    officals who are they name names

    November 7, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  14. Kfgjk Rfgjgj

    and no crack smoking mayor is going too make me feel better about anything...

    November 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Reply
  15. Kfgjk Rfgjgj

    IS IT HEAR.. IS IT THERE... IS IT...IS IT... ANYWHERE...

    November 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  16. Kfgjk Rfgjgj

    NOW ABOUT ALL IF THAT F-ING IRANIAN OIL MONEY...WELL...I CAN SMELL THAT CASH IN MY MINDS EYE FROM ANYPLACE...BUT I CAN NEVER TOUCH IT...so...WHERE IS MY BACKPACK FULL OF CASH...

    November 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  17. Kfgjk Rfgjgj

    the Jews on slave street I mean Wall Street are so excited about selling the latest imaginary isrealie product called Twitter-which I am not allowed too use apparently thanks to Big Brother... as there is a picture of him "Big-Brother" grinning away in place of/next too: the your twitter account has been cancelled red flag...and then there is facebook and email and each and every email I have ever had all my contacts my callander everything I have ever written ect. ect. ect. then there is the Trogien dick the Cancers that causes each and every time I ever try/attempt to use the phone in ways that would lead to a quite normal life of not having a sweating monky on ones back.

    November 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  18. Kfgjk Rfgjgj

    few years from now the US military budget will have doubled durring the Obama Admin. "Others" will test a new US President and or Canidate and no One will be able too stop a New Large scale Military intervention...this is how the World really works...Until then count/watch your Obama bucks go one by one far far away into another hostile Countries Gov. labor camps in the forms of American Jobs...the race too the bottom continues as the new normal...I'm...dreaming....of a "White" Christmas...where all the shoppers go... too... Arab Markets.. (Isrielie) owned malls... too buy all of those three times relabled Chinese goods...Buy Treaty-loophole... too deliver the final fatal blow too the American Joe...

    November 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  19. John

    Talking to the world's largest supporter of terrorism and the world's bank for terrorism?

    How dumb can you get?

    We can't let the world'd largest supporter of terrorism have nuclear weapons...duh....

    As far as talks...we have had talks and they promised to get rid of their underground facilities and they have not.

    Bomb Iran's nuclear facilities only. Talks have already failed.

    Bomb Iran! Bomb Iran! Bomb Iran! Bomb Iran!

    November 7, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Reply
    • brandon

      YOU MUST BE RUPUBLICAN?

      November 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Reply
      • John

        I'm an independant. I have voted for Republicans and Democrats.

        November 8, 2013 at 2:35 am |
    • George patton

      Thank you, John. Posted like another hateful, ignorant Tea Partier who never graduated from the 8th grade! Are you really that full of hate? Like I said before, ignorance begets fear and fear in turn begets hatred. Need I say more?

      November 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Reply
      • John

        You are the one who is extremly ignorant and very hateful with your hateful and ignorant comments. If you paid any attention at all on what goes on you would be aware that Iran is the world's largest supporter of terrorism and the world's bank for terrorism. It is you who is hateful to support the murdering of innocent people/terroroism. Shame, shame on you. By the way, I don't belong to the Tea Party. Is that your Nazis like target (just like the Nazis targeted Jews for hatred you are targeting Tea Partiers? Shame again!

        November 8, 2013 at 2:40 am |
      • George patton

        John, what about those filthy creeps who operate those ungodly drones from some air conditioned office somewhere here in America, dropping 500 lb. bombs on defenseless people in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Don't you think that they somehow need to be held accountable for their actions, too? This double standard should never exist anywhere in the world, but it does, sadly enough!!!

        November 8, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  20. Hdfy Rseftu

    LET US PRAY...DEAR DARK LORD... BRING UNTO OTHERS THAT WHICH THEY DO UNTO THEMSELVES...RAISE PEOPLE TOO LAY IN THE HOLES THEY DIG FOR THEMSELVES UNDER YOUR COMMAND...

    November 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  21. Hdfy Rseftu

    AND MUSLIUMS LOVE SLOPES EVEN ONES MADE OF SAND...

    November 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  22. Hdfy Rseftu

    Ahh...the great pleasures of Circular-reasoning...my Friend...

    November 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  23. Hdfy Rseftu

    & CULTS WELL THEY ARE GOOD FOR BUISNESS...

    November 7, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Reply
  24. Hdfy Rseftu

    YOU JUST AGREED THAT ISLAM IS NOT A RELIGION MUSLIUMS ARE TERRORISTS AND ONE CAN ONLY WATCH AS MULIUMS PRACTICE THE ART OF WAR/MILITANT BREADING PRACTICES & IT BRINGS SMILES TOO THEIR UNSHAVEN UNEDUCATED FACES AND BLOOD TO THERE IMAGINARY SPARKLING WHITE MAN DRESSES...AND THE MONEY...WELL THAT IS THERE JUST FOR THEM...DONT YOU KNOW...AND NO ONE ANYPLACE IN THE MUSLIUM WORLD IS ALLOWED TOO HAVE A MIND OF THIER OWN BECAUSE IT IS A CULTURE OF CULT MY FRIEND...

    November 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  25. Hdfy Rseftu

    THE AGREEMENT IS THERE IS NO AGREEMENT...THIS IS POSSITIVE...

    November 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  26. USAPeasant

    Very tricky situation.

    On one hand the opening of Iran to talks is a positive step forward. On the other hand it is very doubtful in my opinion that they will surrender their nuclear weapons program. I say give peace a chance, but it be good to keep Teddy's Big Stick around too because quite frankly, Iran cannot be trusted.

    Seems to me that Iran is playing the same game North Korea did. The only problem is while North Korea is kept in check by China, Iran has no such puppetmaster. Furthermore its the Iranian leader himself, Ayatollah Khameini, that makes a nuclear armed Iran a very real fear for the people of Earth. Khameini has his hands in much terrorism, assasinations, and wars. His motivations are supremely dark and evil. Khameini is perhaps the most dangerous man on Earth and nuclear weapons in his possession is simply unacceptable.

    November 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • Random

      People just don't get that we are dueling a mindset from over 1500 years ago. A mindset that places zero value in women. A mindset that encourages slavery. A mindset that if you disagree with someone you kill as many of them as you can.

      Imagine war 2000 years ago. When it was perfectly fine to drag the captured out into the streets and cut their heads off with an old butter knife. There was a reason the dark ages were dark. This mindset is the reason.

      You can't try to act evolved and have reasonable conversations when one side is 2000 years behind the other. What is worse is now we (russia and the us primarily) have armed them with more than the stones they used to have access to. Now they present a danger to themselves and us.

      People take it as bigotry to state that they are 2000 years behind the rest of the world. It is not. It is just how it is. And it is why we are effectively losing at this point.

      November 7, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Reply
      • USAPeasant

        Lol you raise many good points sir. However I also think you aren't looking at islam deep enough. Allow me to explain in further detail. By the way, please don't assume I am attacking you, like I said I agree with much of your statement indeed.

        See it is easy to just say they are 2000 years behind us and this is the root of their woes. However this doesn't explain why many of them are very wealthy and modern indeed. Humanity hasn't evolved nor is it going to. It has merely stayed in the same messed up condition, but today has newer toys. Islam is not just a mindset, it is more than that. They are not living 2000 years ago, they are living now. Radical Islam is growing by population and geographic location as well. Were this an obsolete 2000 year old idea you would not have such rapid growth. You really cannot understand the dire threat of Islam nor their beliefs unless you understand spirituality. We can see America's recent turn away from spirituality as one of its direct root causes in failing to understand and deal with radical Islam. We try to be atheistic and/or secular. We even go to great lengths to absolve radical islam of being islamic lol. We even call our war against jihadists The War on Terror. Fact is though they are not fighting a war of terror against us, they see it as a very spiritual era and a very spiritual war. Understand I am not asking you to convert to anything, merely analyze islam and current affairs with islamic nations from a spiritual lens. It sounds absurd, I know, but it is in fact the easiest way to understand why they do what they do and what they hope to do in the future.

        If you can understand the spiritual aspects and implications of Islam, then you can begin to understand why they hate the jews, why they kill non-muslims with zero regard, why they don't believe in human rights, why the Ayatollahs carry power, why people carry out the fatwas, why OBL a billionaire gave up luxury to become a murderer, why jihadists use the black banner of Muhammad, why they believe in arab racial superirority, why war in Syria is important to both Sunni and Shia, why they tried to kill Rushdie, why they are rising in this lifetime,and why they are pretty much destined to slay most of the world's population and why the world plays into their hands so easily. It's all very easy to understand if you can understand spirituality because they have told you all ready why they do all this and moreso what their end goal is.

        You all ready have good understanding Random! Like I said before I agree with much of your comment. I am merely asking you to look a little bit deeper.

        November 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Random

        I bought a koran. I spent ten years studying it and islam. Trust this I understand islam.

        Apparently 70 something officials support this . It blows my mind but until I can furnish a better alternative I can't really trash it either.
        This is seriously disturbing though. It is like a horror movie I see the guy behind you about to stab you and cant stop it. No way are they trust worthy.

        November 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • USAPeasant

        @Random. Heh I know what you mean especially about it being like a trainwreck-a-coming and nobody paying attention. Like I said you do understand a lot! I don't think you see the whole thing though since you say you cannot disprove it. There is in fact a very dark secret to Islam. I don't really want to start any tumult on here, but consider this. If you are spiritual Angels are real, but who said all Angels are of God and who said Muhammad actually met with an Angel?

        Aesha one of the biggest players in early Islam after Mohammad's death said this of their "Prophet" when he had one of his meetings with Jibril:
        "I see what you do not"
        I believe is the quote. Anyone feel free to disprove me if it is not true.

        November 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
      • USAPeasant

        Ah lol let me correct my lysdexia.

        Aesha said;
        "You see what I do not" *

        Meaning Aesha did not see the angel Jibril during Muhammad's revelations. Taken together with some other accounts of Muhammad's revelations this begs the question of; "did muhammad meet with an angel or not?"

        November 8, 2013 at 7:57 am |
  27. Random

    Yesterdays news.... OMG we are soo hopeful.

    Todays news ..... IRAN: We will never stop enriching.

    Me.... I freaking told you so. Slap more sanctions on them.

    November 7, 2013 at 11:57 am | Reply
  28. John LTinkham

    I guess most of us are leery of a government that imprisons and executes dissidents without any mercy or thought of leniency or a flicker of hope that freedom will ever ring in Iran. We have to try though because Armageddon however contrived to be a fairy tale could very well happen. Israel seems all too anxious to start a conflict partly a symptom gone awry of their own paranoia

    November 7, 2013 at 10:34 am | Reply
  29. George patton

    Let's all hope and pray that these talks succeed. I'm so sick and tired of all these mindless warmongers here screaming their heads off about starting yet another useless and unnecessary war half way around the world. In fact, Iran would be a great partner in stabilizing both the Middle East and Central Asia. Also with their navy, they could join India, Australia and South Africa in patrolling the Indian Ocean and thus replacing our ships there that we need to pull out of there for fiscal reasons.

    November 7, 2013 at 1:08 am | Reply
    • Random

      This is one we are not starting, it is not us that wants a war, that is why i feel it is not a choice between anything but instead the other side manipulating us. They want a war , not us. Our desire not to have a war is why we are being manipulated.

      November 7, 2013 at 9:32 am | Reply
      • George patton

        You forget Random, that there are a lot of people in Washington and all across the country who are aching to start another obnoxious war so they can fatten up their bank accounts and the right-wing politicians who use these obscene wars to prop up their political popularity! These people are quite glad that you feel the way you do about Iran!!!

        November 7, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • John LTinkham

      Iran could purchase nuclear weapons from North Korea regardless, if it was their desire to possess them. We have to think though why would they? War is all Israel seems to think about and any efforts concerning peace seem to offend them. Iran must know that if they initiate a war that their country would be rubble before the next sunset

      November 7, 2013 at 11:40 am | Reply
  30. Random

    The problem seems to be that our reps seem to really believe that this is a choice between compromise or war. At absolute best I think it is a temporary delay on war if we start giving them things. Things they will use, with additional time to make the more then likely inevitable war worse.

    November 7, 2013 at 12:18 am | Reply

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