So far, the West is taking a hard line in talks with Iran, responding to its concessions on its nuclear program with only modest rewards and, indeed, with new threats of sanctions. U.S. politicians, in particular, are bending to Israeli demands for either Iranian capitulation or war, a worry to ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
By Paul R. Pillar
In looking at the state of play after a day of talks in Baghdad between Iran and the P5+1, one has to ask how much of what is impeding progress is the work of those having a stake in the negotiations failing and how much results from misunderstanding how international negotiations work.
The public picture of what transpired across the table on Wednesday is incomplete, but evidently the principal sticking point is Western refusal so far to consider any relaxation of any of the sanctions already imposed on Iran. This refusal is being maintained despite Iran having made it clear it is willing to give up enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level, a move that would get to the heart of what ostensibly is the main Western concern about how close Iran is to a nuclear-weapons capability.
In return for this concession, the negotiators, led by the European Unionís Lady Ashton, reportedly are dangling such tidbits as spare airplane parts and fuel rods for the Iranian reactor that produces medical isotopes. While those are not quite trivial throwaways, they pale in comparison with the sanctions, the lifting of which is the main reason Iran has to negotiate.