The U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are eager to test whether those words will translate into real progress such as increased international monitoring and scaling back uranium enrichment.
“We have seen some positive mood music coming out of Tehran,” Mann said. “But of course the most important thing is that they actually follow it up with concrete proposals that address our concerns.”
The first session of the two-day talks — the first since Rouhani’s election — lasted about 21/2 hours, ending shortly after noon. Back pains suffered by Zarif, Iran’s chief negotiator, threatened to complicate the process.
Mann said the pains did not stop Zarif from having a “cordial” dinner Monday evening with Catherine Ashton, the top EU diplomat convening the talks. But Araghchi said Zarif was “suffering a lot,” although he intended to stay in Geneva until the talks ended.
Iran’s state TV, which closely reflects government views, said Tehran offered to discuss uranium enrichment levels. The report also said Iran proposed adopting the additional protocols of the U.N.’s nuclear treaty — effectively opening its nuclear facilities to wider inspection and monitoring — if the West recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
Of the tons of enriched uranium in Iran’s stockpile, most is enriched to under 5 percent — a level that need weeks of further enrichment to turn into weapons-level uranium. But it also has nearly 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of 20 percent-enriched uranium, a form that can be quickly upgraded for weapons use, according to the U.N’s atomic agency, which keeps tabs on Iran’s nuclear activities. That is close to — but still below — what is needed for one nuclear weapon.
No final deal is expected at the two-day session, but it potentially could be the launching pad for a deal that has proven elusive since negotiations began in 2003.