The word “breakthrough” has been uttered hopefully in anticipation of the meeting May 23 in Baghdad of officials from six world powers and Iran to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. A positive meeting last month in Istanbul kindled a sense of momentum.
The U.S., which has kept the talks on track as Iran has tried to wiggle out of them, wants Iran to freeze its program and agree to future negotiations on capping uranium enrichment and opening nuclear sites to full international inspection. But success will continue to rely on the unified U.S., European, Russian and Chinese decision to impose punishing economic sanctions on Iran, and that cohesion is now under threat.
It’s shaky not just because Russia and China are, as usual, difficult to keep in the corral. The new and greater challenge is the risk that the just-elected French president will break ranks and that economic woes will lead to a further dissolution of European resolve to confront Iran’s nuclear program.
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