Some Promising Events Before Baghdad P5+1
May 19, 2012 • 10:00AM

On Sunday, Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will fly, along with his two top deputies, to Tehran to meet with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and others. According to news accounts today, the purpose of the trip is to sign a framework agreement that will allow IAEA inspectors to visit the Parchin site, interview a list of Iranian scientists, and review documents — all aimed at resolving all the remaining disputed issues between Iran and the nuclear watchdog. The fact that Amano and his team will be meeting with the Iranians on Monday, just 48 hours before the start of the second round of the current P5+1 talks, is a good development — if it comes off as reported. Unlike predecessors Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei and Hans Blix, Amano has played a nasty role in fueling the Iran confrontation since he took over the helm at the IAEA.

The Guardian and other newspapers were also reporting today that the ongoing preparatory talks between the European Union's deputy negotiator, Helga Schmid, and the Iranian deputy negotiator, Ali Bagheri, have been productive and have set an agreed-upon agenda, and possibly a draft proposal modeled on an earlier 2009 draft. According to the Guardian report, Bagheri contacted Schmid immediately after the initial talks in Istanbul, and proposed that they immediately set out to reach an agreement on a framework for the next round of talks. Back in 2009, a proposal was put forward to swap enriched uranium produced in Iran for fuel rods for France's medical isotope reactor. Today, Iran acknowledges that it has a stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. A swap deal, in return for a delay in the implementing of oil sanctions, could be a first step towards a comprehensive agreement that would stop the clock for war.