Nothing easy about Iran’s nuclear negotiations

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Published: Updated:

Iran’s conservatives have begun to nag. They nag because they have been kept in the dark about Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s negotiations with the P5+1 group in Geneva.

They nag because they are not privy to the content and details of Zarif’s proposal to the West regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Zarif and his deputies have oft repeated that the secrecy surrounding the negotiations is not aimed at hiding things from people. Rather, they say, they would like to reach a deal and then share the information, before the media can make much ado about nothing.

Zarif called on the naggers to be patient.

Iran and the P5+1 powers said on Wednesday that they had engaged in a “substantive” and “forward looking” discussion on the disputed Iranian nuclear program.

What is interesting is that nuclear and economic sanctions experts from both sides are due to discuss technical issues before the official talks on Nov. 7 and 8. Has a “semi-agreement” been reached that predicates the need for such a pre-meeting between experts?

Iran’s proposal

It is clear that without U.S. approval none of the members of P5+1(Russia, Britain, China, France and Germany) can take any steps to reduce or ease the sanctions already implemented on Iran.

It is clear that without U.S. approval none of the members of P5+1 can take any steps to reduce or ease the sanctions already implemented on Iran

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

We do not know the details of Iran’s proposal, but we can hypothesize. In a very good scenario, it may be that Iran proposed to accept the additional protocol of the IAEA and to halt enriching uranium and to open its facilities to international inspectors.

Zarif, and his deputy Abbas Araqchi, have repeated themselves several times that shutting down their nuclear facilities or halting total enrichment is out of the question and non-negotiable.

Foreign media’s curiosity has led them to speculate that Iran agreed to open up all suspicious facilities, including the facility under the construction site of a water reactor in Arak, to inspectors. International media has also speculated that Iran proposed to stop enriching uranium and transfer their stock to fuel rods being used in Tehran’s medical research center.

If Iran indeed proposed such a proposal it could be seen as acceptable to the U.S. and the wider West.


Radical conservatives in Iran, who act without thinking and can’t see beyond the end of their noses, can harm the ongoing negotiations if they were to know the details.

Republicans in the U.S. are another major problem for reaching a deal with Iran. Some influential congresspersons, who are supporting Israel in Congress, are pressuring for more sanctions on Iran because they want to assure Israel that Iran is not buying time during the negotiations.

Of course, without tangible results it is very hard for President Obama to ask Congress to lift sanctions. However, since the two nations decided to make relations better, Obama has to take some positive steps alongside his Iranian counterpart. The minimum President Obama can do, in spite of Congress’ disapproval, is to stop chasing the institutions and companies who are trading with Iran. President Obama can ask his administration to take it easy and ease the pressure, for example, on South Korea, Japan or India who trade with Iran in oil and automobiles. Releasing Iran’s frozen assets is another move of good faith.

With all these little but important initiatives, President Obama may be willing to assure Iranians that the U.S. is serious and sincere in their bid to improve relations, if Iran cooperates with the P5+1 group. Of course it can’t be that easy for Obama to solve the problems over night and there is long way for the two nations to go before normalizing the relationship. President Obama needs to assure his allied nations that he is not taking risks about Iran, before Iran proves that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Iran’s nuclear program does not only matter to Israel, it also matters to Iran’s neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia. The sudden closeness of the U.S. and Iran makes those neighbors a bit worried and forces them to wonder if there is a shift in the U.S.’s policy towards the region in general, and towards Syria in particular.

To address the neighboring countries’ concerns, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet and brief his Saudi counterpart about the negotiations with Iran, and also meet Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in Italy soon.

It may sound like the negotiation with Iran is going fast and smoothly but in reality it cannot be so; it must be very difficult. From now, Iran will enter the hard part of the talks with P5+1 and I am not sure the nagging groups in Iran and in the U.S. can keep calm and stay patient for long.


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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