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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a photo opportunity before the start of three days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva November 20, 2013. (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
For most of the past decade, particularly since Western financial sanctions began to bite hard two years ago, the dollar has been king around Tehran’s currency bazaar. With government oil revenues plunging and inflation surging, the Iranian national currency, the rial, plunged — to 40,000 to the dollar at its lowest point, from 10,000 to the dollar. For most people, the question was never whether to exchange rials for dollars but how soon.
But these days, the tenor of the bazaar has changed. With the prospect of an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program — and the loosening of the sanctions, which might help revive Iran’s moribund economy — the fortunes of the long-suffering Iranian currency are looking up. Some people have even begun to think it may even make sense now to dump dollars.
An interim deal to restrain Iran's nuclear programme aims to make it harder for the Islamic state to build any bomb but may still leave it, at least for now, with enough material for several nuclear warheads if refined to a high degree.
In a sign of how far Iran's nuclear activity has advanced in a few years, the deal under discussion in Geneva this week appears unlikely to achieve a central goal of an abortive one in 2009: reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to below that needed for one nuclear bomb, if processed more.
While details of the text being negotiated in Geneva by senior officials from Iran and six world powers have remained secret, it seems to focus mostly on halting Iran's higher-grade enrichment and neutralising that material.
That is because enrichment to a fissile concentration of 20 percent - compared to the 3.5 percent usually required for nuclear power plants - represents most of the work needed to reach weapons-grade uranium of 90 percent.It seems that P5+1 foreign ministers will be arriving in Lavrov is leading the charge apparently.
After a turbulent 10-day recess, Iranian and American negotiators — along with representatives from the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and from Germany — resumed their negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Wednesday. The delegations from both the U.S. and Iran are led by seasoned, thoughtful diplomats. The greatest obstacle they face is not each other's intransigence but radicals at home.
There is one step that would greatly advance the cause of peace between the two countries: a frank and heartfelt apology for past wrongs. But domestic political realities inside both countries — fear that extremists will denounce any apology as a sign of weakness or self-flagellation — prevent any president of either country from uttering those often-painful words, "I'm sorry."
Yet each side in this poisoned relationship has good reason to seek pardon from the other. Since neither can be realistically expected to issue an apology of its own, they might consider a joint statement in which they recognize the harm they have done to each other and agree, if not to forgive each other, at least to put the past behind them as they move toward a more promising future.