The New York Times is reporting that Iran may be about to open its Parchin military facility to international inspections. This is a biggish deal, but not a complete breakthrough. Parchin is where Iran may have been conducting experiments on weaponizing its nuclear fuel; there has been speculation that the facility housed a chamber to test nuclear triggering devices. No doubt, if the inspections are allowed at Parchin, there’s not going to be anything there to inspect. (Although if uranium was present in the past, it will be detectable.) This is part of a flurry of Iranian activity on the eve of the next round of nuclear talks in Baghdad tomorrow.
Iran is also attempting to launch a space satellite tomorrow. It has been making renewed, obnoxious noises about obliterating Israel. It has declared victory in the nuclear negotiations. All of which could mean…anything. But the sheer volume of signals blasting out of Tehran indicates that something is up, that actual negotiations–and maybe even concessions–may be on the horizon. The most important concession would be the one toughest to judge–complete cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on rigorous, unannounced inspections of anything that IAEA wants to look at. This can’t be a one-shot deal. It has to be ongoing.
These negotiations are extremely complicated. Breakthroughs will be achieved over time, as trust is built, and that will require a constant, daily set of negotiations–if the Iranians don’t agree to that level of intensity, if they want another 5-week breather between sessions, it’s likely that they’re stalling.
The point is, no concessions should be made until Iran has taken credible, irreversible first steps. The economic sanctions are obviously working. The Obama Administration and its allies, especially the Chinese and the Russians, need to maintain that pressure until the deal is done…if it can be done.