Tension over Iran's nuclear case has had a long history since 2003. It has been always on the agenda of IAEA's Board of Governors (with the exception of February 2005). Iran after the failure of talks with its Western side in 2004, and began to enrich uranium to 3.5% and step by step to 20%, when it saw that the West's policy toward it is not promising.
Negotiations between the interested parties have been continued in all these years without any tangible results. After the failure of talks in Istanbul (2010), the hope diplomacy would bring the interested parties together faced a heavy blow. Fifteen months afterwards, the negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 re-started in Istanbul in April 2012; but this time, the political atmosphere was positive and two sides were optimistic of resolving their problems.
The first session of fresh negotiations in April 2012 in Istanbul went well, with delegates praising the constructive dialogue and Iran's positive attitude.
At this time, the West's optimism were based on their perceived likely winning cards:
- exerting paralyzing economic sanctions, especially in oil and banking system; and
- the Israeli military threats.
On the other side, Iran's perceived winning cards were:
- attempts to circumvent sanctions;
- building the Fordow enrichment site at 80 meters underground;
- military maneuvers and counter-threats to Israel; and
- threatening to close the Strait Hormuz.
So, any new round of negotiations was considered as a touchstone for each party.
The Islamic Republic of Iran put forward the issues which have interested the 5+1, i.e. closure of enrichment of 20% uranium and inspections to military facilities such as Parchin. On the other side, the West also showed signs of accepting the 3.5% enrichment limit.
President Obama and other American officials also noted that it is Iran's right to enrich uranium enrichment to a minimum level.
On the eve of negotiations between Istanbul and Baghdad (May 2012), the US announced a new round of sanctions against Iran. Along with it, Europe virtually put into place all the pieces of the oil embargo against Tehran and all optimism about the positive results of talks has vanished.
In the Baghdad round, it despite major differences, the parties could just agree on the next round of negotiations and its place and no more.
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