Geneva talks, nuclear walks and Obama’s ticking clock

These talks have the potential to make history

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Published: Updated:

Now there are no doubts whether Iran and the United States are serious about the nuclear talks about and are eager to reach a peaceful solution.

It’ll either end in either war or peace, according to President Obama’s point of view. Last Friday, he warned the Congress not to trigger new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program while the talks are under process.

Obama told the lawmakers he would veto any new sanctions bills that come to his desk. He says such a move would upset diplomatic talks and increase the likelihood of a military conflict with Tehran.

Iran and major powers met on Sunday in Geneva to contiue four days of high level talks between Iran and the U.S. in Geneva and then in Paris between foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of the State John Kerry. They walked and talked side by side for 15 minutes in Geneva as a sign of good progress and to publicize this.

The plenary meeting between Iran and P5+1 (Five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) will continue on Monday in Geneva.

Obama’s appeal to Congress has even stretched to the U.S.’s closest ally, Britain.

These talks have the potential to make history

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

David Cameron confirmed on Friday that he is calling U.S. Senators to lobby against passing new sanctions. Directly approaching some Senators shows how much the talks are serious and yet fragile. Cameron said his calls were "not in any way... to tell the American Senate what it should or should not do." Instead, he says he wanted to tell the U.S. Senate that "it's the opinion of the United Kingdom that further sanctions, or further threat of sanctions, at this point won't actually help.”

But his calls and Obama’s warning tell us that the majority of the U.S. lawmakers are against the talks – or against Iran’s nuclear program full stop. However, it is clear that President Obama and his nuclear negotiating team have achieved much during the past year.

According to the interim agreement reached in Geneva on November 2013, any new sanctions imposed during the talks are prohibited and can jeopardize the agreement.

Simply out, any new sanctions could be used as a tool for Iran to end the talks and resume its advanced program regardless of the consequences.

Obama treads carefully

Understanding the delicate situation, Obama is treading carefully. He wants to give Iran as much guarantees as possible, even if it means clashing with Congress in the near future.

Seemingly, what Iran and the U.S. wanted very much this week was to draft a joint document to speed up a nuclear deal, according to Al-Monitor. But apparently, the document wasn’t prepared in time to present to the other Western negotiating powers. Al-Monitor says that according to a source close to the talks, this document will eventually be an element of the framework agreement that Iran and the P5+1 have sought to complete by March.

A joint document, political agreements on sanctions, technical frameworks, all reveal hard work being done on both sides to reach a comprehensive deal before the July 2015 deadline.

Of course not only the U.S. Congress is resisting the deal, in Iran there is tremendous resistance against the talks and against limiting the nuclear program. The government’s opponents have sharpened their teeth and have been waiting to see the talks break apart Zarif and his negotiator team.

Experience shows that the ticking clock is the enemy and both sides understand how quick they have to show agreements are being reached, even if to issue a “joint document” of sorts. These talks have the potential to make history.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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