The Ball is in Iran’s Court
Image Credit: Flickr (parmida76)

The Ball is in Iran’s Court


For the first time, United States and Iran appear to have begun real negotiations. Though no agreement has been reached yet, the meeting in Kazakhstan this week was a relative success. Previous rounds of talks resembled stare-offs before boxing matches. They centered on coercion: the main motivator for concessions was the threat of new sanctions or other escalatory steps. This time around there was a genuine give-and-take. If the next meeting in Istanbul strengthens this positive trend, a major achievement can be in the making.

The two sides have been stuck in an escalatory dynamic. Both are pursuing a dual track policy of seeking negotiations while continuously escalating pressure on the other side at the same time. But rather than having the pressure compel the other side to adopt more a flexible attitude, the opposite has happened. Both sides have hardened their positions and dug in.

The unprecedented sanctions pressure on Iran, which has caused tremendous damage to the Iranian economy including cutting Iran's oil income in half and slashing the value of Iran's currency by almost 70%, did not result in Iran softening its position. Instead, Iran escalated by increasing its enrichment program, adding new centrifuges, including new advanced centrifuges, and growing its stockpile of enriched uranium. While the U.S. moved closer to the potential collapse of the Iranian economy through sanctions, Iran moved closer to a nuclear breakout capability. The escalation game left both sides in a worse position.

What is potentially a game-changer with the meeting in Almaty is that the paradigm of the talks shifted from perpetual escalation to an exchange of concessions and incentives. Both sides shifted their positions and moved a bit closer to the other.

The updated supposed P5+1 proposal is neither smaller nor bigger, it’s just more sophisticated. By restricting the accumulation of near 20 percent enriched uranium in Iran while enabling the Iranians to produce sufficient fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, Washington has focused on what’s important. The production of near 20 percent enriched uranium is not a problem as long as the Iranians turn the uranium into fuel pads for the reactor (which, according to the latest IAEA report, they are doing). So there is no need to waste political capital on demanding a complete halt to 20 percent at this stage.

To ensure Tehran’s compliance – and address the potential dangers of Iran’s updated centrifuges that can improve its dash-out capability – the new proposal calls for enhanced IAEA monitoring measures that provide early warning of any attempt to rapidly or secretly abandon agreed limits and produce weapons-grade uranium. The shift towards enhanced inspections is critical – ultimately, only an inspections and verification based solution can provide the necessary limitations and transparency the international community is seeking.

In regards to the demand of shutting down Fordo – a request the Iranians have dismissed as a non-starter – the P5+1 is now demanding that activities there be suspended. In return, there were discussions about suspending sanctions such as the recently imposed gold trade sanctions. Though the sanctions relief offered is not nearly as substantive as Tehran would prefer, this may still be digestible for Iran since the demands have in a way also decreased.

April 9, 2013 at 08:26

I'm not sure I'm in agreement that Obama's offer to lift the gold sanctions carries extra weight.  It may, in fact, be an offer designed to fail.  It wouldn't be the first time (SALT2 for one) that an American administration made offer that it proved unable to carry out.  And given that its within congress's jurisdiction, and how poorly Obama has performed pushing through any legislation, why does Obama think he can push it through?  Wouldn't an offer strictly within the power of the executive make more sense?

March 6, 2013 at 03:17

Bravo. Well said.

March 5, 2013 at 01:57

Iran's nuclear program is an important proposal

This is a proposal for the parties negotiating with Iran is 3 +3 If you run it in less than a year in Iran's nuclear case will be closed and a totally win-win game for both sides will have.

1 – Another Time Another embargo has expired and no application of pressure and negotiations, the negotiating parties must adopt the method of interaction.

2 – A new round of talks in the 3 +3 Iran offers to negotiate a package of highly prized for the lost confidence of the whole nation may again come to the negotiating table and get.

3 – Recommended time step must be done on both sides to make the building look Lifting of sanctions on Iran's banking and insurance and shipping should be included in the closed block all the money to be released from Iran.

4-A series of talks on the package should be taken for 3 months, every 3 weeks to do the negotiations without delay before the agreed meeting place, the next round of talks should be.

5 -During the three months to discuss sanctions on Iran outside the UN negotiating with either America or Europe Union suspended pending Buy sanctions on oil and gas and telecommunications, including the Internet should be canceled.

6- The suspension of sanctions against Iran allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the Parchin.

7. During the 3 months of the voluntary level of enrichment activities that will keep the current level Iran will not install new equipment to enrich To the right of that there will be a Negotiating parties do not offer any of the 3 +3 All the volunteer work that has resumed building to stop.


8. Iranian negotiator for 20 percent of all enriched uranium into fuel for medicinal purposes has become.

9 -After the abolition of sanctions on Iran outside the UN inspections after 3 months of the Arak heavy water reactor to the IAEA will IAEA inspections of Iran's Parchin Arak and all that is needed about possible military activity that the country has received some The Agency will provide Iran in a peaceful statement All the signs that Iran's nuclear activities and wants to return Iran's nuclear file to the Security Council, the organization will be.

10. Package should include the lifting of all restrictions on the free transfer of medical and pharmaceutical applications How nuclear levels for therapeutic purposes, particularly for cancer and other drugs should be included.

11-Packaging should be discussed in the second week of the negotiations of the agreement will be fully implemented.

12. Equipment for civilian and commercial aircraft shall be subjected to immediate possession of Should a passenger aircraft cargo equipment and parts worth $ 200 million profit in Europe and America have blocked money to Iran.

13. The 3 +3 negotiating with Iran over 3 months, should any new sanctions against Iran outside the UN to approve.

14. Iran after 3 months of implementation of all parts of the agreement, the countries negotiating 3 +3 with Iran a step confidence building enrichment of 20% for 3 months completely voluntary stop, but every time you decide to make this work they will be resumed.

15. It sanctions against Iran in the Security Council in its resolution 1696 was adopted on 31 July 2006 be canceled.

16. The cancellation of its resolution 1696 of 20 percent enrichment will be suspended for three months.

17. After delivery of the fuel needed for medical research and for Iran for the first time next month will stop 20 percent enrichment.

18. The talks with Iran on fuel delivered to Iran a guarantee to recognize Iran's right to enrichment for peaceful purposes, Iran.

19-After 9 months of the first round of sanctions against Iran in the framework of all UN Security Council and outside it will be canceled.

20. The 3 +3 should give assurance to Iran that Iran's nuclear facilities and individuals associated with Iran's nuclear program has never been attacked by any country, not. 

[...] Iran. Trita Parsi, prominent expert on Iran and the head of the National Iranian American Council, offered cautious optimism: “Though the gap between the two sides is still wide, the fact that two additional meetings were [...]

March 4, 2013 at 01:35

I hope isareal allow 5+1 do thier jubs

March 4, 2013 at 01:35

"All" is the code for nukes, disgusting.

March 3, 2013 at 11:02

I won't accept your post until you provide your sources. Please back up your statements.


March 3, 2013 at 06:32

Well said Earth View

March 3, 2013 at 04:59

I am in total agreement with EarthView.  

March 2, 2013 at 10:14

To claim that "The Ball is in Iran’s Court," is idiotic. The proposal by the P5+1 was indeed more realistic than previous proposals. But, still, Iran is being offered peanuts and the West demands diamonds. The sanctions relief proposed is totally insignificant. More importantly, there is still no recognition of Iran's rights under the NPT. 

Like many other ex-patriot Iranian gurus or "experts," Trita Parsi keeps repeating the same failed stories about Iranian presumed intransigence while ignoring the total lack of justification for any sanction on Iran. If Iran has committed a sin I would like to know what it is. Is Iran developing nuclear weapons? If you think so, then present the evidence. If Iran is threatening the US or anyone else, where is the evidence aside from the paranoid rants of Netanyahu. In contrast, Israel and the US constantly threaten Iran with the idiotic, "All options are on the table." Does anyone know what the word "All" means?

March 2, 2013 at 10:04

There is no dispute on any of these sites since all are being inspected by IAEA. The main dispute is about Parchin, which is a military site and not a nuclear and does not fall under the purview of NPT. So, IAEA is just barking up the wrong tree. It has no right to demand an inspection of Parchin.

March 2, 2013 at 00:02

[...] The Ball is in Iran’s Court [...]

March 1, 2013 at 23:56

[...] The Ball is in Iran’s Court [...]

March 1, 2013 at 11:18

To add more Pakistan, India, Israel are not bound by the treaty therefore IAEA inspectors.Most nations signed and ratified the treaty. and made a commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons. under this treaty Iran get access to nuclear reactor technology such as the Russian completed nuclear power plant in Bushehr or the Chinese built nuclear technology center of Isfahan both currently running in Iran and not in dispute.  Four facilities are in the dispute with iran, the IAEA, and the UN security council. Also other facilities in the mountains not yet discolsed by Iran and possibly never.

Arak – Heavy water plant

Isfahan Uranium conversion plant

Natanz Uranium enrichment plant

Qom – Uranium enrichment plant

These are in dispute.

March 1, 2013 at 11:09

America along with Russia, China France and the UK are nuclear powers recognized under the nuclear non proliferation treaty. israel, india, and pakistan are not members of this treaty and therefore cannot violate it. iran did sign and ratify the nuclear non proliferation treaty which let iran have access to nuclear technology such as the bushehr nuclear power plant completed by the russians and The Nuclear Technology Center of Isfahan built by the chinese, iran the turned and kicked out iaea inspectors violating article 3 of this treaty…

Article III

Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes to accept safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Agency’s safeguards system, for the exclusive purpose of verification of the fulfilment of its obligations assumed under this Treaty with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Procedures for the safeguards required by this Article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility. The safeguards required by this Article shall be applied on all source or special fissionable material in all peaceful nuclear activities within the territory of such State, under its jurisdiction, or carried out under its control anywhere…
Iran is a party to the NPT but was found in non-compliance with its NPT safeguards agreement and the status of its nuclear program remains in dispute. In November 2003 IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei reported that Iran had repeatedly and over an extended period failed to meet its safeguards obligations, including by failing to declare its uranium enrichment program.…
the IAEA Board of Governors, acting under Article XII.C of the IAEA Statute, found in a rare non-consensus decision with 12 abstentions that these failures constituted non-compliance with the IAEA safeguards agreement.This was reported to the UN Security Council in 2006
after which the Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Iran suspend its enrichment. Instead, Iran resumed its enrichment program.…

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of
Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran…

While the Agency continues to conduct verification activities under Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, Iran is not implementing a number of its obligations, including: implementation of the provisions of its
Additional Protocol; implementation of the modified Code 3.1 of the Subsidiary Arrangements General Part to its Safeguards Agreement; suspension of enrichment related activities; suspension of heavy water related activities; and addressing the Agency’s concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.
While the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear
facilities and LOFs declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement, as Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation, including by not implementing its Additional Protocol, the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities


and is currently violating 6 un security council resolutions
un security council resolution 1696…
un security council resolution 1737…
un security council resolution 1747…
un security council resolution 1803…
un security council resolution 1835…
un security council resolution 1929…

123 on your list have nothing to do with it the iaea is an organization under the UN

who could argue with a youtube clip of user generated content, still has nothing to do with irans illegal nuclear program.

[...] Read Here – The Diplomat [...]

March 1, 2013 at 06:36

I still do not understand what rule does not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, but countries like Pakistan are. I am fully aware that Israel is the main motivation behind this, but what international rule makes Iran the villiain and Israel and Pakistan not ?

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