The talks on Iran’s nuclear program between the world’s major powers and Iran will resume tomorrow in Istanbul. The talks take place amid speculations that a deal is in the making. The background and the issues at the negotiating table:
1. In 2009, the IAEA brokered a swap agreement between the two sides. Iran was to send abroad 1,200 kg of low enriched uranium (LEU), counting for more than two thirds of its LEU inventory at the time, for re-enriching to 20% purity in Russia and turning it into fuel rods and assemblies in France, which would be shipped to Iran for use in its nuclear research reactor in Tehran.
2. The IAEA brokered deal fell apart when politicians in Tehran, mainly the right, opposed the deal, regarding it as a capitulation of Iran’s sovereignty and its rights to enrich uranium on its soil. The Iranian government had to back down from the deal.
3. The West favored the deal as it saw the surrounder of the two-thirds of LEU inventory by Iran would have prevented it from building a nuclear weapon.
4. In the period following the breakdown of the brokered deal, Iran has multiplied its LEU inventory and has enriched uranium to 20% purity. Amid signs that Iran is ready to revive the 2009 deal, the West is insisting that the volume of the LEU to be transferred abroad from Iran should increase to account for the much higher volume in the country's current inventory. Iran has at least publicly balked at the idea.
5. Iran is demanding, and the West is ready to oblige, the ending of all UN, US and EU sanctions against Iran if a deal can be worked out in Istanbul.
6. Iran is also demanding that the broader political issues and problems between Iran and the West be put on the agenda during the talks, and as part of any nuclear deal those issues addressed as well. Among Iran’s demands are assurances by the West that it will not use military force against the country and it will not be involved or encourage a regime change in Iran. The West has been, at least publicly, non-commital on these demands.