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Have three rounds of talks between the U.N. Security Council and Iran yielded any positive results that might bring Iran any closer to canceling its pursuit of nuclear weapons?
We may learn, once again, that money rather than compelling and rigorous rhetoric and global scrutiny does indeed hold the greatest power of persuasion.
Earlier this week the P5+1 group (U.S., Russia, China, Britain France and Germany) met with Iranian negotiators in Moscow for their third round of talks. How close was Iran to compromise?
Iran outlined its legal case for enriching uranium to 20 percent and, according to the Christian Science Monitor "held fast to its demand that the P5+1 recognize its "inalienable right" to enrich uranium "at all levels" and to remove increasingly severe sanctions that are damaging the Iranian economy." In other words, neither side moved an inch.
After three rounds of talks there's still no sign that any compromise is even possible. Did they agree on anything? Yes. They agreed to talk some more.
Both sides agreed to hold a technical meeting on July 3rd in Istanbul to better understand and study each other's positions. And after that, chief negotiators for both sides would have discussions to plan yet another round of talks.
However, absent from Iran's public statements these days are the saber-rattling that pushed crude oil prices to the year's highest levels in the spring. Do you think President Ahmadinejad's apparent restraint is timed to help Iran create the impression of responsiveness, while intentionally asking for more than it knows P5+1 can give?
For Iran and the rest of the world, perhaps the impending economic squeeze may yield what four months of discussion have failed to produce. "All the sanctions that are supposed to come into force on July 1 will come into force on July 1," said EU foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann. He added that when the EU oil embargo kicks in European insurers and shipping companies carrying Iranian crude to other parts of the world will also be affected by the embargo and shouldn't expect relief either.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's negotiator, told Bloomberg News that he wants another round of talks to be scheduled. "The difficulty here is not only quite a distance between the positions of the parties, but also the sequencing of the effort: what comes first, what comes next, what repricocity means... It's very complex."
A severely wounded economy can be just as impactful as a direct military strike. Either one can be a compelling attention-getter.
Time will tell.