Hopes high for latest round of nuclear talks between Iran, western government

Here and Now

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, left, chats with Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili as they pose for the media before their meeting in Baghdad May 23, 2012. (Photo by Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters.)

There's high hopes for the talking underway in Iraq about Iran's nuclear programs.

Iran is looking for certain concessions as it meets with negotiators from the U.S. and five other world powers.

No breakthrough is expected, though Iran is pushing for specific timetables and goals. Western leaders are signaling they want more disclosures about the state of Tehran’s nuclear program before offering any rewards.

James Reynolds, a BBC reporter in Baghdad, said huge sandstorms have been lashing the city in recent days — diverting attention, at least among the populace, from the key talks being held nearby.

"It's an unlikely choice for a nuclear summit," he said. "Nations dealing with extreme weather, bombings and political unrest tend not to be chosen as conference venues."

But for Iran, which has forged close ties with Iraq's government, wanted the talks to be held in the neighboring state.

"We don't care about Iran," said one Iraqi, when asked about what he thought about the important summit being held. "We care about our country. We want our country to be a safe one. We want security."

Another Iraqi said he wasn't worried about the summit because he's not worried about Iran's nuclear program in general. He said it's for peaceful purposes, which is also what the Iranians say.

Western nations and Israel don't believe them.

The United Nations' nuclear weapons inspectors are also focused on Iran this week. Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, visited Iraq Monday to try and secure access for his nuclear facilities inspectors. He indicated Tuesday that he thought a breakthrough was near.

But getting inspectors in the door is unlikely to mollify western leaders. They want nothing short of a halt in Iranian nuclear enrichment, Reynolds said.

"Iran insists that a total freeze is unacceptable," he said.

Israel insists that anything but a total freeze is unacceptable.

So the negotiations continue.