The Baghdad talks between Iran and the P5+1 bloc, made up of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, seeking to resolve the impasse over Iran's nuclear program ended with no solution reached but a commitment to meet again in June in Moscow. The foreign policy chief for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, expressed cautious optimism, observing, "It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground."
Most of the commentary on the negotiations has focused on the technical aspects of the diplomacy involved. In this first stage of talks, the West is demanding that Iran stop enriching uranium to 20 percent levels and that Tehran transfer its existing stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium to third parties. For its part, Iran is seeking relief from onerous new sanctions about to come into effect, particularly on the part of the European Union, while the talks are ongoing. Further down the line, both sides must reach a workable agreement that provides firm guarantees, in the form of intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran is not pursuing a weapons program. That in turn would take military action against the Islamic Republic off the table and allow for its reintegration into the global economy.
But there is one glaring problem. Neither Iran nor the United States, the two biggest stakeholders in these talks, is presently disposed to accept an agreement.