Western Powers- Detente Seen Ahead

Iran wants to avoid detailed commitments, but the French are sticking to a hard line, and US President faces a battle to sell any deal to Congress.

Despite the obstacles, negotiators appear likely to clinch a deal to restrict Iran’s program for at least 10 yrs in exchange for sanctions relief.

The official line is there is a 50/50 chance that a deal will be signed.

Diplomats close to the talks say the chances are higher than that as foreign ministers and other negotiators head to Vienna next week for the final stage of the two-year process.

Driving the cautious optimism is not so much progress made in overcoming sticking points as the intense political pressure on the US and Iranian delegations to reach a deal that would end the 12-year nuclear stand-off between Iran and the West.

“We can’t rule out failure, but … it seems more likely that we will get something. Not by June 30, but perhaps in the days that follow,” a senior Western official said this week referring to the June 30 deadline for a deal.

Another Western official said, “I think there will be an agreement because the two most important players need it.”

The 5P+1 group: the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China aim to stop Iran from gaining the capacity to develop a atomic bomb. In return, they would lift international sanctions that have hobbled the Iranian economy.

A preliminary agreement reached in early April left major differences for negotiators to settle, including the verification regime to ensure Iranian compliance with a deal and the timetable for lifting sanctions.

Yes, there are unresolved issues but diplomats say there is a willingness to compromise. as securing a nuclear deal is politically vital for Mr. Obama and .

For Mr. Obama, detente with Iran and , may be the only major foreign policy achievements within his reach, with the Israel-Palestinian peace process frozen and wars raging in and Iraq major failures.

“There will be a deal, Americans need it more than we do. This deal will help both countries,” said an Iranian official, who put the chances of a final deal at 70%.

For President Rouhani, failure to secure an agreement could lead to his political demise.

Iran’s foreign minister warned US Secretary of State about that earlier this year, saying it would give hardline conservatives who oppose the deal a chance to reassert their authority.

“It is very crucial for Rouhani and his camp to clinch this deal,” a senior Iranian diplomat said. “Failure means failure of Rouhani and reforms. It will strengthen the position of his hardline rivals.”

Neither President Obama nor President Rouhani can afford to give too much ground, yet they must and will likely compromise to secure the deal.

Mr. Obama must win approval for the deal from the Republican-controlled US Congress, where many fear the deal will boost Iran’s as a regional power and increase its threat to US allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Officials close to the talks say Mr. Obama expects Congress to oppose the deal and is prepared to use his veto to ensure it is not derailed.

On Iran’s side, the hard-line supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has the final word on a deal, officials say he supports an agreement.

By Reza Hashami, CEO, Global Modern Insurance, Inc.

, Editor