Encouraging Signs on an Iran Nuclear Deal

Over the last couple of days we’ve gotten some encouraging news on the negotiations with Iran over their nuclear weapons. On Friday we learned this:

Iran and the United States have tentatively agreed on a formula that Washington hopes will reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear arms by committing it to ship to Russia much of the material needed for such weapons, diplomats say.

In another sign of progress, two diplomats told Associated Press that negotiators at the December round of nuclear talks drew up for the first time a catalogue outlining areas of potential accord and differing approaches to remaining disputes.

The diplomats said differences still dominate ahead of the next round of Iran six-power talks on 15 January in Geneva. But they suggested that even agreement to create a to-do list would have been difficult previously because of wide gaps between the sides.

And here’s the news today:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that ongoing nuclear negotiations with world powers are a matter of “heart”, not just centrifuges ahead of talks next week in Geneva.

Speaking to an economic conference in Tehran, Rouhani both countered hard-line critics worried Iran will give up too much while also attempting to signal his administration remains open to negotiation with the six-nation group leading the talks.

If “we are ready to stop some types of enrichment which we do not need at this time, does it mean we have compromised our principles and cause?” Rouhani asked.

He responded: “Our cause is not linked to a centrifuge. It is connected to our heart and to our willpower.”

Negar Mortazavi responded to the latest by tweeting: “Iran President Rouhani is preparing the ground for a nuclear deal. Watch this closely.”

Trying to decipher the signals sent in the middle of these negotiations is perhaps a bit too much like reading tea leaves. And we know far less about the challenges Rouhani is facing from the hardliners in Iran than we do about the one’s facing the Obama administration here at home. But today those tea leaves are looking hopeful.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.