P5+1 Talks To Resume in Moscow June 17-19
May 25, 2012 • 10:24AM

After two days of intense negotiations between the P5+1 countries and Iran in Baghdad, a next round of talks has been scheduled for Moscow on June 17-19. This is a significant advance in itself, because the just-concluded Baghdad talks were the first time that detailed proposals were put on the table and thrashed out.

There are, according to a source familiar with the Baghdad discussions, significant points of difference between the two sides, but there were very substantive discussions, and some points of convergence on several important issues, including the framework for Iran turning over existing stockpiles of enriched uranium and curbing future levels of enrichment. Some discussion, according to the source, focused on the just-concluded successful talks between Iran and the IAEA, and how to implement the agreements in line with the P5+1 efforts. The Iranians rightfully insisted that, in response to the good-faith committments to turn over enriched uranium stockpiles and verifiably restrict future enrichment, the P5+1 had to equally make some significant concessions, particularly in the form of cancellation or withdrawal of some of the sanctions. This was one area where no agreement was reached, as reflected in final statements by Iranian chief negotiator and Supreme National Security Council head Saeed Jalili.

According to the source, both sides distrust one another, and therefore, any agreement must be based on reciprocity. With the points of dispute now clearly on the table, all parties will have the next weeks to assess what took place in Baghdad and refine their positions. The Moscow meeting is expected to be a crucial one, since there was no expectation that this week's meetings would produce any kind of even interim agreement. The fact that the talks will take place in Moscow is a good thing, given the strong war-avoidance stance of the Putin government.