[JURIST] Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif [official website] announced on Tuesday that Iran and the six world powers of P5+1 [BBC backgrounder] are set to resume low-level talks on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva on Jan 15, though wide gaps remain in their positions. P5+1, consisting of the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, reached a preliminary agreement with Iran last year for it to suspend its most sensitive nuclear activity, in return for a lightening of some economic sanctions [JURIST report] imposed on Iran during the 12-year nuclear dispute. Although Iran claims that its program is peaceful, the West is fearful that it will lead to Iran developing nuclear weapons.
Over the past several years Iran has been subject to numerous sanctions for its contentious nuclear program, although some commentators doubt the efficacy of such sanctions [JURIST op-ed]. Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed that the developing nuclear program is for peaceful purposes [JURIST report], but the international community, Israel in particular [JURIST op-ed], worries that Iran’s enrichment program was designed for military purposes. In February 2012 the US imposed further sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran due to the misleading practices of Iranian banks. Many, however, viewed this action as an attempt to convince Iran to disassemble its nuclear program by further burdening its already struggling economy. In 2010, the UN Security Council voted to impose a fourth round of sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran for its continued failure to disband its uranium enrichment program. The UN had previously ordered Iran to stop expanding [JURIST report] its nuclear program by August 31, 2006. Iran stated it would completely withdraw [JURIST report] from the International Atomic Energy Agency if its “nuclear rights” were taken away.