Representatives of six world powers are set to begin two days of talks with Iran over its nuclear programme and there is a cautious optimism for progress.
The gathering in Geneva follows last month’s announcement at the United Nations by Iran’s President Hassan Rohani that he wanted a deal within three to six months.
The election of the relatively moderate leader has certainly changed the atmosphere.
“I hope that what we’ll have here is a very productive two days, an opportunity to explore both the proposals that we have put on the table, but also ideas that are coming from Iran,” said
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton on the eve of the talks.
But analysts such as Mark Fitzpatrick from the International Institute for Strategic Studies wonder if Rohani and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif can really deliver.
“I think that Rohani and Zarif are serious about wanting to strike a deal that will remove the sanctions – that’s what they came into power to do and they have the authority of the Supreme Leader to try to strike a deal to get rid of those sanctions. Whether they have the authority to accept the compromises that will be needed, I’m rather doubtful.”
Washington for its part is offering a ‘suspension for a suspension’. It says it will ease crippling sanctions if Tehran stops enriching Uranium and allays international concerns that its atomic programme is a disguise for developing nuclear weapons.