The Guardian‘s longtime Iran watcher Julian Borger sees signs for cautious optimism ahead of the next round of nuclear talks in Baghdad next week:
My understanding is that Ali Bagheri, the deputy Iranian negotiator, got in touch with his opposite number at the EU, Helga Schmid, the day after the Istanbul talks to ensure that the ball kept rolling. In the run-up to the next round of talks in Baghdad next Wednesday, the two have met at an undisclosed location to draw up an agenda.
The talks have been substantive and businesslike. At no point did Bagheri exclude any items from the proposed agenda, and he accepted that the Baghdad talks will involve sensitive aspects of the Iranian nuclear programme … Neither Schmid nor Bagheri has a mandate to cut any deals, but nevertheless, the outline of a possible ‘confidence-building package’ has emerged from their discussions.
That package would build on the uranium fuel swap deal that Iran came close to agreeing with the international community in 2009, by which it would export some of its enriched uranium stockpile in return for fabricated fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). [...]
Furthermore, European sanctions due to take effect at the beginning of July, could be pushed back. The UK is already reported to be pushing for a six-month delay in sanctions on oil tanker insurance, and the implementation of the broader EU oil embargo could also be postponed.
Iran’s Bagheri and the EU’s Schmid met in Geneva May 6-7, I previously reported, and are due to meet again this week.