Iranian and EU officials will meet today (Tuesday) in Istanbul to find common ground for the next round of international talks on the issue of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. This meeting takes place, however, while a new set of US and EU sanctions are being enforced against Iran's banking system and oil industry; sanctions which some believe will render the Islamic Republic's positions more severe, instead of encouraging Tehran to continue negotiations.
From another perspective, the meeting between Helga Schmid, the EU's deputy chief negotiator, and Ali Bagheri, Iran's deputy chief negotiator, takes place at the height of tension between Tehran and Tel Aviv. Israel, which deems these nuclear talks useless and expresses a need for a military option, has accused Tehran of planning the recent explosion of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Iran has denied this accusation and, in return, has pointed to the role of Israel in the assassination of Iran's nuclear scientists. Furthermore, Israeli president Shimon Peres has stated that Iran is in open war with Israel. US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will arrive in Israel in 3 days' time to meet and talk with an old friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has put the issue of Iran on the agenda for this meeting. At the same time, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated during her recent trip to Israel that Washington and Tel Aviv are working closely regarding the matter of how to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue.
In a statement published by EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton's office, it was said that the deputies of Ashton and Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's National Security Council, would meet on Tuesday, after which Jalili and Ashton would be in touch to assess the outlook of the continuation of political negotiations.
After a 15 month break, nuclear negotiations with Iran reconvened in Istanbul in April. Baghdad and Moscow were the next venues for these talks. Istanbul is hosting the latest negotiations held between deputy chief negotiators after the talks between chief negotiators and experts proved futile.
The goal of the US, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany, or the P5+1, is to convince Iran to limit its enrichment program and transfer 20% enriched uranium out of the country. But this goal has not, hitherto, been achieved due to Tehran's insistence on recognition of its right to enrichment inside the country.
Some analysts believe that, during recent weeks, the deepening of the Syrian crisis has deviated attention from Iran's nuclear program. Furthermore, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Arab League’s special envoy have demanded Iran’s participation in solving the Syrian crisis, an issue which the US and its allies disagree with.