The world powers offered Iran limited sanctions relief if it ceases to enrich uranium to 20 percent – a level of purity that can quickly be further refined to produce weapons-grade fuel. Iran, in turn, pledged to make a counteroffer at Day 2 of talks on Wednesday.
But with optimism for the talks low, some experts say the world powers, and principally the US, must come up with a much bigger game-changer than a modest reduction of sanctions if they are to move Iran – and perhaps to avoid another Middle East war as early as this summer.
“You could have a deal on the nuclear issue within weeks if the US accepted a certain level of safeguarded enrichment,” says Flynt Leverett, a former director for Middle East affairs in the Bush administration National Security Council (NSC) and professor of international affairs at Pennsylvania State University. But that “would basically mean accepting the Islamic republic [of Iran]” as a legitimate power, he adds – something Mr. Leverett advocates.