MOSCOW, October 15 (Itar-Tass World Service). — Another round of talks between the sextet of international mediators and Iranian negotiators is beginning in Geneva on Tuesday. Some expect major progress. Russian diplomatic sources have confined themselves to expressing “reserved optimism” and warned against hoping for an “instant breakthrough.”
These are going to be the first consultations over Iran’s nuclear program after Hassan Rouhani was elected Iran’s new president, the Kommersant daily reports. The stakes are extremely high. Rouhani’s defiant predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, kept the world in constant fear Israel and the United States might try to resolve the Iranian problem by force.
For the time being Rouhani has lived up to his reputation of a reformer, the daily says. The past two months saw an unprecedented rapprochement between Teheran and Washington, certain normalization in Iranian-Israeli relations and Iran’s high-profile statements it was prepared for negotiations on the future of its nuclear program.
However, Russian diplomatic sources have told Kommersant one should not hope for an “instant breakthrough.” “We feel moderately optimistic. If there begins a positive process after all, it will be slow-going,” a source told the daily, adding that “at this point it is very hard to predict anything.” “Although they have made certain hints at the readiness to make certain concessions, the Iranians declared their stance in public before the beginning of negotiations. As follows from what they said, Teheran has not changed its original attitude even a little bit,” the diplomat explained.
According to a different source the beginning round of talks may be devoted to drafting a “road map” similar to the “Lavrov plan” Russia put forward a year ago for settling the problem through a series of step-by-step mutual concessions. “However, some problems may arise. Iran insists it is up to the sextet to make the first move. In other words, a number of its participants (the United States and the Western countries) must ease the existing economic sanctions,” the source explained. “The West, on the contrary, is waiting for Iran to take action first and to suspend the enrichment of uranium to 20%.”
Experts believe that expecting some breakthrough solutions at the Geneva meeting would be “both wrong and risky.”
“The parties are in the process of studying each other, and any drastic moves may upset the positive dynamics,” PIR-Centre expert Andrei Baklitsky told Kommersant.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily says Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has displayed remarkable activity in view of the signs of reconciliation between Iran and the West. According to some media reports, Israel is in talks with Saudi Arabia over the standoff with Iran. Saudi Arabia sees Shia Iran as its competitor in the Middle East. It may become a good ally of Israel even despite some fundamental differences on the Palestinian issue.
Yevgeny Primakov, whom the Nezavisimaya Gazeta describes as the world’s greatest expert on Middle East affairs, believes Israel’s position is a great mistake. “That the Americans are still feeling their way forward and moving very slowly is not the worst risk. A far greater problem is Israel has been putting too much pressure on the United States in a bid to stop the negotiations with Iran or make them least successful,” Primakov said. “Netanyahu has said on this score that even if the Israelis find themselves all alone, they will still be prepared to deal a blow on Iran. I believe this is very dangerous”.