For the moment, I’ll file this under “Believe it when I see it,” but it’s nonetheless encouraging:
“Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency are near agreement on a plan that could lift the veil on some of the Islamic Republic’s past nuclear research, U.N. officials said Tuesday in an announcement that raised hopes for a more comprehensive nuclear accord when Iranian officials meet with six world powers later in the week.
Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said U.N. and Iranian officials settled most of their differences during talks Monday in the Iranian capital and were moving toward a formal pact on making Iran’s nuclear activities more transparent….
“We had expansive and intensive talks in a positive atmosphere,” Amano told Iranian television after the hastily arranged meeting in Tehran.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, also hailed what he described as “very good talks” with the IAEA leader. “God willing, we will have good cooperation in the future,” he added.”
In a separate line of negotiations, six major countries including the United States will meet with Iranian representatives beginning Wednesday to discuss a deal in which Iran would dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and surrender its stores of highly enriched uranium. In return, harsh economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted.
The odds of success in that negotiation would probably increase if the IAEA inspection deal is finalized, suggesting that Iran is finally willing to concede to international demands. In the past, however, Iran has repeatedly seemed to agree to deals only to back out of them later.
Will this time prove different? Perhaps so. Iran has never before faced economic sanctions so broad and so well-enforced internationally. It’s also pretty clear that if these negotiations fail, military intervention becomes a much more serious option, and that’s a route that nobody should be eager to travel.
Stay tuned. Success is far from guaranteed, but it’s at least worth the effort. As an old Iranian proverb puts it, “Trust in God — but tie your camel tight.”
– Jay Bookman