Expert Skeptical about Iran Yielding at Next Talks


Washington, May 30 - Iranian envoys are unlikely to offer major concessions at the next round of world talks over its nuclear program, an expert on the country said Wednesday.

“In some ways, we’re in the early part of these negotiations” with Iranian negotiators still reluctant to make any major progress towards a final deal, Washington Institute for Near East Policy Senior Fellow Michael Eisenstadt said during a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project.

The international community concluded two days of talks last week in Baghdad with Iranian envoys in an effort to persuade them to halt that level of enrichment. The talks ended unsuccessfully though the parties agreed to meet again in Moscow next month. Israeli officials said the outcome buys Iran more time to continue its military efforts.

Iran’s negotiators need to bargain “to the utmost” and show their country that they have been unwavering in the face of western demands. Eisenstadt noted that Fereydoon Abbasi, Iran’s nuclear chief, recently said there would be no suspension of enrichment by Iran as required by several U.N. resolutions.

“Any decision will be subjected to a microscope back home,” Eistandt said. “Nobody wants to be in a position where political opponents back home can say they got a raw deal.”

A real danger, Eisestandt said, is that the failure of the upcoming round of talks would push the West and Iran back to the state of “brinkmanship” that occurred this winter when both Israeli and Iranian leaders publically made military threats.

“I think we’re in a deceptive bubble of calm right now,” he said, noting that Iran would try to make a nuclear weapon secretly if it were able to avoid detection by the West. For now, he said, Iranian officials are content to continue producing low-enriched levels of uranium and amass a stockpile of the key ingredient that could be used as a nuclear deterrent in the future.

Yet as Iranian negotiators offer little in the way of compromise, the country is making “incremental” progress with its nuclear program, Eisenstadt said.

“The more time passes, the harder it will be to set back Iran’s programs simply because [Iran’s leaders] are hardening and dispersing the program,” he said.

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