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In a nutshell

What is at stake in the negotiations of P5+1 and Iran? Laura Secor writes in the New Yorker :

Most observers expect that an agreement would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium to five per cent, the level necessary to fuel a power plant, while disabling plutonium facilities, limiting the number and the type of uranium centrifuges, and imposing intrusive inspections on nuclear activities to insure that they are not turned to military use. Iran came to Geneva for the same reason that the six world powers did: because its leaders believe that they can get something they require at an acceptable cost. These are the conditions that make diplomacy possible, and it has taken ten years to produce them. The United States can use them to secure an imperfect peace. Or it can start over by increasing the pressure on Iran and demanding unconditional surrender. If it chooses the latter, it will avoid a compromise, but it may find itself left with a choice between an unmonitored Iranian nuclear program and war.

Read more at the New Yorker: "Talking or Walking."
Weighing in: Brzezinski and Scowcroft, former National Security Advisors: "We support President Obama’s decision to seek a first phase understanding with Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program now."  Text here.

More: NYTimes marriage counselors, David Sanger and Jodi Rudoren look at the U.S.-Israel relationsip: "Those two divergent views have deeply politicized the question of whether the accord that the United States and its European allies are considering should be termed a good deal or a bad one. It is a fundamental disagreement that has left in tatters whatever halfhearted efforts Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have made over the past five years to argue that they are on the same page when it comes to Iran."

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.



Commenting Guidelines

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The fact that we are talking to Iran is a great thing. While it is true Iran is offering concession because of the sanctions, most nations and people come to the bargaining table because of pressure. We must take advantage of this opportunity to improve relations with an important country. It is amazing how much good will can develop when a country's economy and well being is improved. 


There's an article in today's WSJ about the collapse of Iran's national gas company.  It begins as follows:

"Iran's national gas company said it is facing collapse, the latest sign of deepening economic distress from international sanctions as Tehran seeks urgent relief in talks with world powers.

The chief executive officer of state-owned National Iranian Gas Company, Hamid Reza Araghi, said over the weekend that the company has declared bankruptcy, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency. The report said the company had a debt of 100 trillion rials, or about $4 billion.

The company tried to backtrack on the comments Monday. Majid Boujarzadeh, a spokesman reached by phone, denied it was bankrupt. But media reports also quoted Iran's oil minister, Bijan Zangeneh, as saying the gas company "is destroyed."

The sanctions, aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, have devastated the country's critical energy industry. While gas is a relatively small income generator, oil exports, a major revenue source, have been slashed by nearly half since the beginning of 2012."

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