Despite extensive efforts to preemptively sabotage the upcoming second round of P5+1 talks with Iran, set to begin on May 23 in Baghdad, representatives of the Iranian government and the international negotiators have been meeting all week, setting the detailed agenda, and reviewing preliminary proposals. The Baghdad talks are considered to be crucial, because, following the opening talks in Istanbul, where Iran made clear that it is committed to a negotiated resolution, the Baghdad talks will, for the first time, take up concrete proposals. P5+1 negotiator Helga Schmid has been meeting with Iranian government negotiator Ali Bagheri in an undisclosed location, behind a strict wall of secrecy, to minimize interference and sabotage of the talks.
Further suggesting that the talks could successfully proceed ahead in Baghdad next week, an Iranian delegation completed two days of talks in Vienna, Austria, with IAEA officials, and both sides reported progress on resolving a number of unanswered questions about Iran's earlier nuclear research. In 2007 and again in 2010, the U.S. National Intelligence Council, the collective body of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran had halted all work on nuclear weaponization in 2003, and has not resumed that research since then.
Yesterday, an effort to pass a Senate resolution placing new unilateral sanctions on Iran fell apart, when Senate Republicans refused to back the resolution pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), on the grounds that it did not explicitly threaten the use of military force if talks failed. House Resolution 568, boxing in the U.S. administration from allowing any nuclear enrichment in Iran, is working its way through the House. These wrecking efforts have been pushed hard by the Netanyahu government and AIPAC.