Initial reports out of the on-going P5+1 negotiations with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan suggest optimism on behalf of diplomats and hints of concessions by both sides. The first day of talks concluded with Western diplomats presenting Iran with what they say is a “real, serious, and substantive” proposal that creates a pathway towards sanctions relief. Recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium was alluded to as something that can in time be reached after a series of higher “technical-experts” level meetings. Likewise, Iranian diplomats have signaled their desire for a step by step based proposal.
The Iranians are coming to Almaty with their own proposal that they say is flexible. “Our proposal includes a wide range of options. Depending on what we hear from the other side, we will present a suitable version of our proposal. But anyways, Iran is presenting a new proposal,” an Iranian diplomat in Almaty has said.
pertinent report released yesterday by the International Crisis Group outlines steps that can be taken to resolve the impasse with Iran. The report, entitled “Spider Web: The Making and Unmaking of Iran Sanctions,” gives point-by-point recommendations on how negotiations can proceed while also analyzing the efficacy and consequences of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran. In its recommendations for how negotiations should proceed, the report highlights the need for “intensive, continuous, technical-level negotiations to achieve a step by-step agreement.” It states that in order to sustain diplomacy, Iran’s right to enrichment on its own soil should be recognized, while Iran should give stronger guarantees as to not weaponizing its nuclear program. Successful negotiation strategy should be principled, the report states, on an understanding that “the real measure of efficacy is not sanctions imposition. It is sanctions relief.”
The report further delves beyond the scope of the current negotiations, but its suggestions may shine a light into what will come from future negotiations. All in all, it suggests that an incremental approach to negotiations can eventually lead to Iran halting enrichment at a 20% level (and limiting its stockpiles of 5% enriched uranium), ratifying the IAEA’s Additional Protocol and Code 3.1, and resolving all differences with the IAEA. While the report states that untangling many of the current sanctions will be difficult, it states that in return for Iranian concessions the P5 should pass a Security Council resolution that would remove international sanctions on Iran. Further sanctions relief will take time as the “chilling effect” which has resulted in business fearing to do any type of business with Iran dissipates.

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