Officials from five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- plus Germany are to discuss with Iran its latest package of proposals on global issues in Geneva on Oct. 1.
The talks are seen as a chance to resume international efforts to settle Iran's nuclear issue after a 2008 session ended without substantive progress. However, the stances of all the involved parties at the present stage showed that the talks may prove to be yet another round of tough wrangling.
Iran: two-pronged strategy
Iran is believed to keep on with its two-pronged strategy in response to pressures from the U.S. and other Western powers that claimed that Iran intends to secretly develop nuclear weapons with its uranium enrichment program.
On the one hand, Tehran will try to ease such pressures by engaging itself in the talks. At the same time, it will remain firm on and continue with its nuclear plan, which it always says is for peaceful purposes.
The six powers proposed the talks in April. But Iran did not accept the invitation until recently, and at the same time put forward a package of proposals, when it is reported the U.S. is considering a sanction against gasoline export to Iran, and new sanctions from the U.N. Security Council may also be possible.
However, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated that the use of peaceful nuclear technology was Iran's "legal and definitive right, and it will not hold discussions about its undeniable rights."
As matters stand, Iran will only focus on "global issues" during the upcoming talks, stating clearly that it will not touch upon its nuclear program -- something that Western powers wish to raise to the Islamic state.
The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sept. 22 that Iran has built a new generation of centrifuges and "a chain consisting of ten of these centrifuges is being tested," proving that Iran is indeed proceeding with its nuclear plan, as well as a slimmer chance for the country to make substantive compromise in the talks with the major powers.
The United States: expectations difficult to be fully met
Efforts made by the Barack Obama administration to promote talks between Iran and the six powers have signalled Washington's major transition from total estrangement of Iran to accepting negotiations with Tehran.
However, according to some analysts, the United States was forced to make such an unwilling move to break the deadlock of the Iranian nuclear issue.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tehran must decide whether to accept offer from world powers on its nuclear issue, saying Iran's defiance would lead to "more isolation and economic pressure."
The intentions of the United States' calling for multilateral talks with Iran are to force Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities and place its nuclear program under the IAEA supervision.
However, due to the Iranians' constant struggle to defend their rights of using nuclear power, which is fundamentally contradictory with the policy of the United States, it is difficult for the U.S. to fully meet its expectations.
Russia: keeping to its own interests
In a recently published article in the Russian Newspaper, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wrote that there would be no option to solve the Iranian nuclear issue other than political ones. The best approach is to invite Tehran's full-scale involvement in cooperation, instead of blockade or threatened use of force, he said.
Observers here believe that these words were based on the consideration of Russia's own national interests.
Iran is Russia's important partner in politics and trade in the Middle East, with close cooperation in nuclear power plants, energy and arms between the two. It would hurt both Russia and Iran politically and economically if sanctions against Iran were to be imposed.
However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's statement not long ago blurred his country's position on this issue.
"Sanctions are not very effective on the whole, but sometimes you have to embark on sanctions and it is the right thing to do," Medvedev told the Valdai discussion group of Russia experts in Moscow.
It is construed as the Kremlin chief's nod to impose sanctions against Iran.
Britain: following the United States
Iran should take concrete measures to demonstrate the peaceful intentions of its nuclear program in the forthcoming talks between Iran and other six countries, according to British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.
"It's time for concrete steps from Iran to show that they have only peaceful intentions for their nuclear uranium enrichment program. It is a very important time," he said.
Such a statement could be seen as his echoing of comments from U.S. Secretary of State Clinton. The two countries agreed on the Iranian nuclear issue, believing Tehran's attempt for nuclear weapons threatened the security of other nations.
Additionally, the Britain-Iran relationship has been worsened recently. Iran blamed Britain for the post-election riots after election results were published and arrested nine British embassy staffers in June. That has resulted in the expulsion of diplomats between the two sides and could lead the British to a tougher stance in the coming meetings.
Currently, the British government has been struggling with the financial crisis, public expenditures, healthare reforms, and the war in Afghanistan. Facing public doubts, it might be a good strategy to divert public attention.
France: poised to take actions
France has long taken a tough stance on Tehran's nuclear program, insisting that Iran must give up its nuclear ambition and urging the Islamic country to settle the issue through dialogue.
Joining the other five countries this time in inviting Iran to the Geneva meeting, France is expected to take actions against Iran during the multilateral talks.
On Sept. 15, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that his country's intelligence services were convinced that Iran was hiding its programs to develop nuclear arms.
Sarkozy said in an interview with French television on Sept. 23 that he was not optimistic about the Geneva talks. He also urged major world powers to set a December deadline for Iran to suspend its nuclear program.
"Iran has the right to nuclear energy," but it would be unacceptable for the Islamic republic to get hold of nuclear weapons, Sarkozy said.
Germany: supporting tougher sanctions
On the Iranian nuclear issue, Germany has been echoing the stance of France recently.
In August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said during talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran must cooperate with the international community or it will face stiffer sanctions "in the energy, financial and other important sectors."
She also emphasized when she visited Washington in June that the international community must not now allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.
China: expecting solution through dialogue
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Sept. 24 that sanction and pressure will not be conducive to the ongoing diplomatic efforts over the Iran nuclear issue.
"China always believes that sanction and pressure should not be an option and will not be conducive to the current diplomatic efforts over the Iran nuclear issue," Jiang said.
"We hope the concerned sides will take this opportunity, step up diplomatic efforts and push for positive results in the upcoming meeting between Iran, the six major countries and the European Union," said Jiang.
(Xinhua News Agency September 28, 2009)