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Iran Offers Concessions on Nuclear Program, But Concerns Persist

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The United States and Iran are engaged in ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran as a result. In recent year, sanctions applied by the United Nations, European Union, and United States have crippled Iran’s economy.

Rouhani Pledges Resolution

In August 2013, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani took office and promised to find a resolution to the measures the international community has taken against Iran as a result of the country’s nuclear program. In October 2013, Iranian diplomats met with representatives of the United Nations Security Council, which consists of Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. Iranian diplomats also met with U.S. officials in bilateral talks that same month. Additional meetings are scheduled for November 2014.

Iran has 440 pounds of 20 percent enriched uranium and tons of 5 percent enriched uranium.

United States and European officials have praised Iran’s positions in the negotiations as being positive and offering a high level of detail rather than vague statements. However, the crux of the matter remains unresolved; Iran claims that it intends to use its uranium enrichment program for entirely peaceful purposes. The international community, on the other hand, remains skeptical because uranium enrichment can also be used to develop nuclear weapons, which is particularly disturbing given Iran’s long-established ties to terrorism. Iran has 440 pounds of 20 percent enriched uranium and tons of 5 percent enriched uranium. The former especially concerns the U.S. and other countries because it can be further enriched to weapons-grade uranium relatively quickly.

Iran Flexes Own Leverage

Iran has indicated that it is willing to consider enrichment to less than 20 percent if Western nations provide it with uranium of that potency for a research center in Tehran. Iran has also expressed willingness to subject its nuclear weapons program to United Nations monitoring, although the details of such monitoring are the subject of dispute. Above all else, Iran seeks relief from the sanctions currently imposed on it. But Iran has some leverage of its own; shortly before Iran’s October meeting with the United Nations Security Council, a U.S. intelligence official was quoted as saying that Iran’s nuclear program has advanced so far that halting the program or even partially reversing it is necessary for negotiation to yield a result.

20% Iran is willing to reduce its uranium enrichment to below 20 percent if provided with uranium of comparable concentration for research in Tehran.
Changes in November

On November 8, 2013, shortly before further negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program took place in Geneva, the online outlet the Daily Beast reported that the Obama administration had begun to soften financial sanctions against Iran after the election of President Rouhani in June. Such news is certain to provoke criticism by Israel, whose leaders have criticized the negotiations with Iran as being far too accommodating.

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