Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, says he remains confident that a deal can be reached in the next round of nuclear talks with the P5+1, scheduled to begin later this week in Geneva.
Most of the broad issues were already settled in the last talks, and one of the last sticking points was a French objection to including a clause in the text’s preamble recognizing Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
Zarif sees a pretty easy work-around for that, saying the right to civilian enrichment is “self-evident” as part of the right to civilian nuclear technology in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and that there is no real need to mention it one way or the other in the deal’s text.
Iran has long insisted that it will not abandon civilian enrichment, needing a reliable supply of fuel for its Bushehr power plant and the Tehran Research Reactor. The deal they are negotiating will reportedly limit the scope of that enrichment, however, with an eye toward keeping their stockpile from getting too big.
US officials have at time conceded the right to civilian enrichment, while at other times insisting no right exists, or that Iran simply forfeited the right because Israel doesn’t like them. In years past it was believed Iran was willing to eschew the enrichment so long as a reliable overseas supply was guaranteed, but in absence of such guarantees, and after years of growing doubts about the reliability of nations like the US and France upholding their end of the pact, that likely is no longer an option.