Iran and the 5+1 Powers resume nuclear talks in Geneva on Monday, in their first discussions since the failure to conclude a comprehensive deal last month.
The Iranians will hold bilateral sessions with members of the 5+1, including the US, with the first plenary session on Wednesday.
On November 24, the two sides announced that they had not concluded a final settlement over issues such as Iran’s centrifuges for uranium enrichment, the status of Iranian nuclear facilities, and the lifting of US-led sanctions. Instead, interim arrangements were extended to July 1.
Today’s talks are an indication that the process has not stalled, although they will be at the level of “political deputies”. Foreign Ministers of Iran and the 5+1 (US, Britain, China, Russia, France, and Germany), who were in Vienna last month, will not be attending.
In a sign of goodwill, the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization said more uranium centrifuges — including advanced models — will not be activated while talks are ongoing.
Ali Akbar Salehi, a former Foreign Minister, said:
We currently have nearly 20,000 installed centrifuges, some 9,000 of which are operating and another 9,000 centrifuges are being installed but are not operational. As long as the negotiations are ongoing, we have no intention of activating the 9,000 additional machines.
Iran began installing IR-2 centrifuges in early 2013 to replace 40-year-old IR-1 models, but has never put the IR-2s into operation. Salehi said Sunday that Iran also has IR-4, IR-6, and IR-8 centrifuges for testing and development.
Salehi asserted, “There is no option left but to interact and [reach] understanding and the two sides must reach an agreement.”
He claimed differences between the two sides have been narrowed and said the possibility of a deal is “very high” if the 5+1 Powers show “political will”.
The Supreme Leader’s top advisor, Ali Akbar Velayati, took a harder line on Sunday, warning the US:
If Americans continue their present method, they will win no advantage, and rather differences will arise among the current allies (of Washington in the 5+1 Powers.
If the US embarks on making decisions for the other five countries (of the G5+1), disagreements will start among its allies, including France.
Velayati said the number of Iranian centrifuges should not be restricted: “Using civilian nuclear energy is not meant to be a show or for laboratory purposes, rather it has usages for industrial and clean energy purposes which are needed too much.”