Renewed negotiations between the six world powers and Iran commenced in Baghdad this Wednesday to address international concerns regarding the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program. Commonly referred to as the P5+1, the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany used the meeting to emphasize its pressing demand that Tehran cease enriching uranium to a grade of twenty percent purity and transfer existing stockpiles abroad.
Negotiations stretched into Thursday with Western policymakers calling for Iran to shut down enrichment facilities built inside fortified military bunkers and comply with mandatory international inspections. In return for Iran’s concessions, the P5+1 was prepared to offer nuclear fuel for Tehran’s reactor in a negotiations package that also included medical isotopes, cooperation on nuclear safety, and the relaxation of some economic sanctions such as the exportation of airplane parts into the state. Iranian officials rejected the package for what it says was the P5+1’s failure to significantly scale back economic sanctions, which target oil exports and have ostracized the Gulf state from international banking networks.
Iran’s Chief Nuclear Negotiator Saeed Jalili and representatives of six world powers negotiate Iran’s nuclear program in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo: Tolga Adanali/AP)
In an affirmation that Iran must first take critical strides in addressing international concerns regarding its nuclear program before sanctions would recede, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill that would authorize President Obama to impose sanctions on any country or company that provides the Islamic Republic with technology or aides the development of oil or uranium resources. The bill, which discourages business with Iran’s central bank, undercuts Iran’s largest and most direct route for oil transactions and has the potential to cripple Iran’s primary source of revenue.
Iran’s resolute assertion that its nuclear program exists strictly for peaceful purposes is incessantly contradicted by its actions and evasion of international demands for transparency. According to reports, the International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to reveal that Tehran has increased the number of centrifuges inside its Fordo nuclear facility by almost 50 percent since February. All the while, Iran continues to demand the wholesale suspension of economic sanctions before considering the P5+1’s requests for concessions.
The obvious question that remains is, with such intransigent Iranian demands, why did the P5+1 agree to another round of negotiations in Moscow next month?