'Optimism' as Iran, West Begin New Nuke Talks
First negotiations since Rouhani's election
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Oct 15, 2013 7:27 AM CDT
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif share a light moment at the start of the two days of closed-door nuclear talks.   (AP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini, pool)

(Newser) – Global leaders have gathered in Geneva for a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear capabilities—the first since Hasan Rouhani became the country's president. The New York Times sees "the most promising atmosphere for negotiations" in a decade, thanks to Rouhani's apparent willingness to work with the West; his election points to "a more moderate course" for Iran, says a top US official. "We’re at a moment of huge magnitude," says a US diplomat, per the Washington Post. The key to the talks is the possibility of lifted sanctions—if Iran is willing to significantly cut back its nuclear program. An EU official cites "cautious optimism":

  • What does the West want? A bipartisan group of US senators has also proposed delaying further sanctions in exchange for a halt to enriched uranium production, but Iran says it has a right to continue the process, calling it a "red line" in the Post. Thus, the P5+1 group—the US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany—will likely call for far more thorough inspections, the Times notes.
  • What is Iran expected to do? The country will likely propose some reduction in its uranium production, the Times reports. But that doesn't solve the issue of plutonium production—a project which already involves thousands of centrifuges.
  • Is a breakthrough on the horizon? Not immediately, suggests the BBC; instead, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he hopes "we can reach agreement on a roadmap to find a path toward resolution." As for the US, it's willing to reduce sanctions in a manner "proportional to what Iran puts on the table," says a US official. But Iran will probably "disagree about what is proportionate."

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JackNelsonSteward
Oct 15, 2013 7:56 AM CDT
President Rouhani has been saying some very positive things, some of which fly in the face of the strict conservatives in his government. Yesterday he called for more open participation in international conferences by Iranian scientists, calling it "scientific diplomacy," and he praised student dissidents, tweeting, "Criticism by students is as beautiful as their support." The presidency is not the seat of power in Iran and we shall see what, if any, influence Rouhani has. It's nice to hear what sounds like an opening to dialogue coming from there after the years of Ahmadinejad's paranoid ravings. We shall see.