Iran Forecast, Nov 22: Can Trust Be Re-Built in Geneva Nuclear Talks?



US Secretary of State Kerry Going to Geneva
Diplomats Says Iran & 5+1 Powers Closer to Nuclear Deal
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov En Route to Geneva
Iranian Delegation Says Zarif-Ashton Meeting “Positive”

The second day of nuclear talks in Geneva between Iran and the 5+1 Powers offered little detail on substance, as journalists were reduced to watching diplomats shuffle in and out of meetings and trying to read the signals in general statements and body language.

Of the statements, the most telling were from the Iranian delegation, who were relatively downbeat compared to their declaration of a “positive” mood on Wednesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi indicated disappointment that, after Geneva’s talks almost produced an interim deal two weeks ago, there was not even a draft text to discuss on Thursday. Instead, he said efforts were being expended to re-build trust and confidence, eroded after the late failure to get the interim agreement in the last round.

Araqchi was careful not to put specific blame on France, who objected to construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor and public recognition of Tehran’s right to enrich. Instead, he spoke of “mis-commuhication”.

Araqchi hinted that, while Iran was still ready to suspend its enrichment of 20% uranium, the Islamic Republic would never concede its right to a nuclear program with enrichment to the lower level of 5%: “The principle of enrichment is not negotiable but we can discuss volumes, levels, and locations.”

A “senior US official” said, “This is difficult. This is tough. There is a lot at stake for every country in the room.”

The official was confident that the recognition of Iran’s right to enrich “can be navigated in an agreement”.

However, differences over sanctions relief also could be arising.

Araqchi said, “The [removal of] oil and banking sanctions will be part of the negotiations and measures of the other side in the first step.” The US official pointed only to limited easing of restrictions petrochemical and precious metals, and access to some frozen cash reserves abroad.

“The sanctions relief that is being contemplated – if we get an agreement – is quite small and does not undermine in any way the core architecture of our oil, banking and financial sanctions, which have to remain in place until we get a comprehensive agreement,” the official said.

This morning’s meetings start with a bilateral between the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers, the European Union’s Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

US Secretary of State Kerry Going to Geneva

Is this the sign of an advance towards an interim nuclear deal on Saturday?

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki:

Diplomats Says Iran & 5+1 Powers Closer to Nuclear Deal

Diplomatic sources in Geneva say Friday’s nuclear talks have reduced the number of points being debated.

The sources said the most important remaining obstacle was the extent to which work should be allowed to continue at the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor,

Unconfirmed reports claimed that the question of recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium has been resolved with words in the draft agreement that satisfy both sides.

“Yesterday we talked about the issues we don’t agree on, and naturally delegations needed to consult their capitals. In some cases, we have had results,” Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said.

He continued, “In some cases a number of phrases have been added [to the text] and we still need to do some work in other cases. We are dealing with an issue that was the subject of difference for 10 years.”

A sign of the progress in the shift in mood of lead Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi, who was downbeat at the start of the day:

Julian Borger of The Guardian adds:

And Iranian journalist Sadegh Ghorbani notes:

Smiles all around after an earlier meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif:

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov En Route to Geneva

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is flying to Geneva to join the nuclear talks.

The Ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that Lavrov may also meet in Geneva with the United Nations envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Iranian Delegation Says Zarif-Ashton Meeting “Positive”

Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-e Ravanchi, a member of Iran’s negotiating team, is upbeat about this morning’s meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the lead negotiator for the 5+1 Powers, the European Union’s Catherine Ashton:

Ravanchi said talks may continue on Saturday but that he was not aware of any possible attendance of Foreign Ministers from the 5+1 Powers.

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