Negotiations are set to begin in Geneva on Tuesday over Iran's growing nuclear capabilities. These talks will be the first such discussions for Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, a more moderate leader who was elected this past June. While Western leadership continues to be wary of Iran's growing nuclear program, the Middle eastern country is also seeking to lessen the strict economic sanctions imposed on it. The last nuclear agreement between Iran and the West was reached in 2003, when Rouhani was the country's lead nuclear negotiator.
Iran's nuclear program has grown exponentially in the last decade. According to The New York Times:
In 2003, when Iran struck its only nuclear deal with the West, it had a relative handful of somewhat unsophisticated centrifuges. Today, Iran has at least 19,000, and 1,000 of those are of a highly advanced design and have been installed but are not yet being used to enrich uranium.
The levels of uranium enrichment could be a contentious point in the talks. Iran is expected to propose a 20 percent enrichment moratorium, which—still being weapons grade—other parties might view as too high. (Those parties being the five members of the Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, France, and Great Britain, as well as Germany.) While officials said that Iran has a right to a civilian nuclear energy program, it did not specify a stance on whether the country could enrich uranium itself or be restricted to acquiring it from other nations.
An official told the Times that any easing of sanction would be "proportional to what Iran puts on the table." The U.S. will also almost certainly push for more comprehensive inspection mechanisms. Iran currently only allows inspectors to view its 17 declared nuclear sites.
Presidents Rouhani and Obama spoke over the phone last month—the first time such a conversation has happened since 1979.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.