Iran has agreed to a second round of discussions over its disputed nuclear program following a meeting in Geneva on Thursday with diplomats from the U.S. and other world powers.
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Next tonight, Iran at the negotiating table with the U.S. and other major world powers. That happened today in Geneva, where Iran's nuclear program was the main issue. President Obama talked about the talks this afternoon at the White House.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
Today in Geneva, the United States, along with our fellow permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — namely, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom, as well as Germany — held talks with the Islamic Republic of Iran. These meetings came after several months of intense diplomatic effort.
The P5-plus-one is united, and we have an international community that has reaffirmed its commitment to nonproliferation and disarmament. That's why the Iranian government heard a clear and unified message from the international community in Geneva: Iran must demonstrate its commitment to transparency.
Earlier this month, we presented clear evidence that Iran has been building a covert nuclear facility in Qom. Since Iran has now agreed to cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency, it must grant unfettered access to IAEA inspectors within two weeks.
We support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear power. Taking the step of transferring its low-enriched uranium to a third country would be a step towards building confidence that Iran's program is, in fact, peaceful.
Going forward, we expect to see swift action. We're committed to serious and meaningful engagement, but we're not interested in talking for the sake of talking. If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely, and we are prepared to move towards increased pressure.
If Iran takes concrete steps and lives up to its obligations, there is a path towards a better relationship with the United States, increased integration for Iran within the international community, and a better future for all Iranians.
So let me reiterate: This is a constructive beginning, but hard work lies ahead. We've entered a phase of intensive international negotiations, and talk is no substitute for action. Pledges of cooperation must be fulfilled.
We've made it clear that we will do our part to engage the Iranian government on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect, but our patience is not unlimited.
This is not about singling out Iran. This is not about creating double standards. This is about the global nonproliferation regime and Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy, just as all nations have it, but with that right comes responsibilities. The burden of meeting these responsibilities lies with the Iranian government, and they are now the ones that need to make that choice.
Jeffrey Brown takes the story from there.
And to talk about the negotiations and state of relations, we turn to Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. She served on the policy planning staff at the State Department from 2005 to 2007.
And James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, he's participated in talks with the Iranians in the past and held top State Department and White House posts under four presidents.
And welcome to both of you.
A constructive beginning, but hard work lies ahead. Does this sound like a successful start out of negotiations?