“You care about the atmospherics, but in the end, you need concrete results,” the official said.
And those — in Washington’s eyes — would see Iran halt uranium enrichment to the 20 percent levels experts view as within striking distance of weapons-grade matter.
Iranians like Jalili argue that the West is not even making 20 percent enrichment an issue worthy of discussion at this stage — a claim refuted by the US official.
Yet there is little doubt that the spirit of the discussion has changed.
“In past meetings, the approach centered on coercion: The main motivator for concessions was the threat of new sanctions and other escalatory steps,” National Iranian American Council president Trita Parsi said.
“That approach has failed as Iran responded with its own escalation: It expanded its enrichment activities, installed new and improved centrifuges and amassed more enriched uranium,” Parsi said.
That policy ran the region toward the very real danger of Israeli action — a convincing argument for a strategy shift.
Now the world powers appear to be willing to take the first step by offering sanctions relief, and may find a more responsive Iran in return, experts said.
“Jalili’s positive, conciliatory statements today represent a meaningful shift away from that pattern of mutual disdain,” Joshi said.
“It makes it more likely that Iran will, in due course, be able to come up with a more realistic counteroffer,” he said.