Iranian nuclear talks – how to tell if they are working

While Iran has reengaged in discussions about its nuclear weapons program, the US and its negotiating partners are apprehensive about where they will lead. Foreign policy analysts, on the other hand, are equally unsure of the next steps, but Mark Hibbs, Ariel Levite and George Perkowich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have proposed some benchmarks to gauge their progress.

Noting that suspicions are plentiful on all sides of the negotiating table – between Iran and the US, as well as between the US and the Russians and Chinese – they identify oil prices as one of the primary ways to measure success.

“Global oil prices, which have been above $100 a barrel all this year, are widely believed to reflect a risk premium of $20 to $25. Any significant decline in that premium following the new negotiation round would reflect optimism about the course of diplomacy,” they write.

The other indicators are: access granted to international verification teams; the degree to which US-Iran dialogue is bearing fruit; duration of the meetings; where matters stand closer to the summer deadline; and if talks stall on individual bargaining issues.

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