Global Politics

There's still no breakthrough in US talks with Iran

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Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the Geneva talks "fruitful."

The long-awaited talks on Iran's nuclear program, which wrapped up in Geneva Wednesday, didn't produce a breakthrough.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

But that's not because Iran isn't ready to compromise, argues Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former nuclear negotiator for the Iranian government.

"Iran really means it, and they are ready to make a final deal covering the major concerns of the world powers, if the world powers are prepared also to meet the major demands of the Iranians," says Mousavian, who is now a research scholar at Princeton. He says Tehran will welcome inspectors and prove that it's not preparing to produce a nuclear weapon if Washington lifts the strict sanctions that are crippling the Iranian economy. 

"The main question that remains to me is whether President Obama would be able to deliver sanctions relief or not. Without removal of sanctions, there would be no deal. Now the package is on the table," Mousavian says. 

But Reuters columnist David Rohde says he sees a very different perspective at the U.S. State Department. 

"They're hopeful that there will be a breakthrough, but they're very cautious. And there is a long history here of either delaying tactics or outright deception by the Iranians," Rohde says. "I don't want to discount negotiations, but I talked to State Department officials very close to Secretary Kerry and they said he is wary as well. He wants to try this, but he knows it could be a delaying tactic."

Rohde says Wednesday's announcement that the talks will continue in three weeks is a positive sign, but he notes that Kerry himself has so far stayed away from the discussions and says State Department officials are all keeping their distance.

"What they made very clear is that there are forms of very intrusive inspections that can work, that can more or less stop the Iranians from building a bomb. The questions is, will the Iranians agree to it," Rohde adds.

Rohde says it's unclear whether the Iranians will welcome nuclear inspectors, and US State Department officials remain skeptical of the prospects for an agreement.

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