Commentary on the talks with Iran by Michael Adler
Once again, talks between the international community, led by the United States, and Iran have failed to reach an agreement. Talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, last Friday and Saturday, ended in a stalemate. And yet neither side considers the negotiating process over. U.S. officials repeat that there is a window for diplomacy, even if this risks closing as Iran increases its nuclear capabilities.
The six nations talking with Iran – Britain, China, France, German, Russia, and the United States – want Iran to suspend making medium-enriched uranium, which is closer to weapon-grade than the low enriched uranium used for power reactor fuel. This would be but a first step, a confidence-building gesture, to clear the way towards winning guarantees that Iran will not use its nuclear program, which Iran says is a peaceful effort to produce electricity, to make the bomb. Iran says it has a right to enrich uranium under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and wants this right recognized and for sanctions against it to be lifted as first steps in any deal. It has not offered to suspend enrichment.
A key to understanding Iranian thinking is the link below, which contains a 5-point proposal Iran presented at a meeting with the six negotiating nations in Moscow last June and which Iran brought up again in Almaty. The text was the Iranians' attempt in July last year to explain their proposal within the context of what the six nations, the so-called P5 plus 1, were offering. A senior U.S. official said in Almaty however that the Iranian response remains inadequate as the Iranians were putting forth minimal ideas but expect a great deal in return.
Iran's Five-Point Proposal (pages 3-5)