The Obama administration and the Iranian regime are approaching a new round of talks in Switzerland on Sunday with conditions that make a deal on its nuclear development a tough bet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in Cairo on Saturday:
I can’t tell you whether or not we can get a deal, whether we are close… So we believe very much that there’s not anything that’s going to change in April or May or June that suggests that at that time, a decision you can’t make now will be made then. If it’s peaceful, let’s get it done. And my hope is that in the next days, that will be possible.
The question is, “What is ‘peaceful’?”
If the Obama sticks top its guns, and that is not a given, that Iran cannot be allowed to develop weapons-grade plutonium at its unfinished Arak reactor and cannot use its Fordo nuclear plant to enrich uranium, no deal is possible.
Ali Akbar Salehi, director of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), stated on Saturday:
The function and nature of the Arak Heavy-Water Reactor…will remain unchanged as a heavy water facility…. “We are determined to make use of this [Fordo enrichment plant] site according to the guidelines of Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei) and AEOI’s technical needs.
Salehi said that “technical deadlocks were removed” in recent talks with U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and added, “We took very good steps in issues related to enrichment and Arak reactor and managed to remove their fabricated concerns with the technical proposals that we raised, and we defended our national interests and nuclear industry which is a great achievement of the AEOI and those dear people who work in it.”
The P5+1 talks resume in Lausanne today, and Kerry’s intention is to reach “framework agreement” by the end of March prior to negotiations for a final agreement by June 30.
Given the Obama administration’s history of making “framework” agreements” to kick the can down the road, Iran and the P5+1 might be able to come up with some ambiguous language to show they have “progressed.”