Nuclear talks in Geneva

THE SPOTLIGHT is once again on Geneva. But this time around it is not related to Syria and its toxic arsenals but on an issue that is far more important than that. Iran is holding talks with representatives of the P5+1 group, made up of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany.

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Published: Wed 16 Oct 2013, 10:50 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

The parleys on Tehran’s clandestine nuclear programme, whose outcome would inevitably impact the geostrategic dimensions of the region and the world, are too contentious to be commented on. But the fact that Iran under its new leadership of President Hassan Rohani wants a deal on its nuclear programme within six months and is eager to agree on a consensus-based roadmap makes it a promising affair.

The optimism that is being shown by the Islamic republic for the first time in clinching a deal with the West, which will go a long way in lifting international sanctions, is apparently an outcome of renewed understanding in the Iranian establishment that it’s time to open up the republic for business. The euphoria in the air is boosted by the statement of the Speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, considered to be close to the power brokers in Tehran, who said that his country is keen to resolve the issue “in a short period of time.” He went on to add: “From Iran’s side, I can say that we are ready”. It goes without saying that never in the past was such enthusiasm shown over an issue that the revolutionary clique kept close to its heart as a bargaining chip in its foreign policy.

The fact that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei has endorsed Rohani, as he spoke to US President Barack Obama on phone and hinted at a willingness to work with the West for a thaw, is a silver lining of hope. To what extent it graduates into a deal, nonetheless, is too early to judge. But the point is Tehran has come a long way from seeing the Western-brokered talks on its uranium enrichment as a plot to weaken the republic to an opportunity to come out of isolation, which is indeed a breakthrough.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javed Zarif, a US-educated diplomat who believes in the power and necessity of social media in his conservative society, tweeted that “the two-day talks can reach an agreement on a roadmap to find a path towards resolution”. Western powers, however, will find themselves on the edge as they negotiate with Iran and in lieu commit to scrapping the sanctions that have acted as a deterrent all these years. A deal in Geneva — with explicit features to go ahead with — will be a landmark achievement on the path of non-proliferation and disarmament. Both sides will have to keep their cool as they hammer out a nuke-free future.

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