I have been hestitant to write anything about the current situation because I think there's already far too much hype and speculation about the US-Iran nuclear talks and not enough actual knowledge. So, I'm just going to sit this one out and wait to see what happens once the dust settles. I also don't want to prejudge or prejudice the issue in any way.
While there is a lot of optimism, there's room for quite a bit of pessimism too though just based on reading tea-leaves. For example, Kerry's reply to the question below is not very comforting:
Asked what steps Iran could take to prove its seriousness, Kerry replied: "They could immediately open for inspection the Fordo facility, they could immediately sign the protocol of the international community regarding inspections, they could offer to cease voluntarily to take enrichment above a certain level."
Except that Fordo has been open to inspections for years, since the Iranians (and not US intelligence agencies, as the NY Times claims) first disclosed the location of the site to the IAEA. In fact Mohammad ElBaradei himself visited Fordo, and famously said it was nothing more than a hole in the mountain and nothing to be worried about. You could not possibly be even slightly aware of the Iranian nuclear issue, without knowing the Fordo is already open to inspections.
Secondly, Iran has signed the Additional Protocol already, and offered to ratify it if its rights are also recognized, though Iran is absolutely under no legal obligation whatsoever to sign the AP, just as neither Egypt nor Argentina nor Brazil nor lots of other countries have signed.
Third, Iran has consistently stated that it is willing to limit enrichment to 3.5%. In fact Iran was forced to enrich to 20% due to US sanctions that prevented Iran from simply buying the fuel for a medical reactor (which the US gave Iran in the first place) that uses fuel rods made with 20% enriched uranium. So it was the US policies in the first place that caused Iran to increase its enrichment levels, even though the reactor in question posed no credible nuclear weapons proliferation threat and so the US sanctions on the sale of fuel for that reactor did not actually promote or protect any legitimate non-proliferation goals. The media have been very insistent on ignoring this fact even though they will gladly engage in all sorts of totally biased speculation about "how close to a bomb" Iran's 20% enrichment gets it, and other reporters have completely gone overboard and have made up their own terminology by referring to this as Iran's stockpile of "medium enriched" uranium too, though no such term appears in the IAEA Glossary. That's how the media not only follow the dominant narrative promoted by the govt but further embellish it before they pass it on.
So anyway, since Kerry obviously hasn't a clue what he's talking about with regard to Fordo, you have to wonder what's really being discussed at these "nuclear talks" with Iran.
However I should point out that the stakes are quite significant. After all, if you ever visit the Iranian Foreign Ministry, you'd see that the slogan "Neither East Nor West" is carved into stone over the entrance way door. This was one of the foundational slogans of the 1979 Islamic Republic. The point was that Iran would not fall under the influence of any outside powers but would instead chart an independent & assertive way for itself to promote its own interests. Furthermore, one of the biggest "weaknesses" of the regime was perceived to be its lack of nationalist credentials (the mullahs were not strong on the Persian nationalism thing as the Shah was -- and this was used against them, what with allegations such as that the mullahs had allowed Persepolis to fall into disrepair etc. which were quite false.) So, after so many years of hyperventilation and speculation about the nuclear issue, we may have arrived at the moment when we will see whether the Iranian govt will vindicate its nationalist credentials as well its revolutionary slogans in a deal with the US by getting the US to accept a nuclear Iran (not as in nuclear-armed, but a country with a sovereign, independent access to nuclear technology and know-how, including enrichment.)
This can be a "make-it or break-it out" outcome. If Iran succeeds in getting its nuclear program "recognized" by the US, the regime can not only point to a significant victory but also vindicate its nationalist credentials. The Islamic Republic will have officially "won" not just the dispute over the nuclear issue. If not, and if there is some sort of half-assed compromise that in any way delegitimizes Iran's nuclear program, then the regime as a whole -- and not just Rouhani's government -- is open to the charge that it compromised with foreign powers over the interests of the nation and people of Iran in order to stay in power a bit longer, and Rouhani himself will be facing the music. Ropuhani knows this, since he was the subject of a great deal of criticism for one unnecessary suspension of enrichment back during the EU3 negotiations. And we all know what happened then: The EU-3 were simply playing good cop to the US' bad cop whilst all the time the EU and US had agreed never to recognize any enrichment in Iran contrary to what the EU had been telling the Iranians; in the end Iran was cheated and received nothing for its gestures of good faith which included suspending enrichment for close to 3 years.
Ironically, if this results in a "make it" moment for Iran, we should remember it is ultimately the result of the US' own policy of pressing for unrealistic concessions by Iran. Once you make excessive demands, then you have to pay the consequences for doing an about-face.
It will be quite painful to watch if Obama decides to make a deal, since it would mean ultimately recognizing Iran as a legitimate entity in the Mideast, much to the chagrin of the Saudis and Israelis.
He's going to have to find a way, therefore, to present any sort of deal with Iran as a victory for the US and a defeat for Iran. This will mean spinning the deal as a concession by Iran. Naturally, a US claim that Iran has made some spectacular new concession will be a good way to sell a deal, even if the claim has no actual validity. We're already seening media references to "new" concessions by Iran which totally disregard the fact that all of these "new" concessions have in fact been offered by Iran for years now.
For example, aside from Kerry's flub, as Glen Grenwald has pointed out Brain Williams of NBC claims that Iran has just now and "suddenly" decided to get rid of its "nuclear weapons program" -- though in fact Iran was the first nation to call for a nuclear-weapons free-zone in the Mideast and has never sought nuclear weapons itself & stated so quite plainly.
You know I'm not an optimist. I've seen similar build-ups of hype and speculation about a US-Iran breakthrough before. Won't happen. Thus far we have not seen an ounce of evidence that the US has decided to abandon pressing Iran to give up her sovereign right to enrichment, and that has always been the pretext that the US has used to exacerbate relations with Iran. Furthermore, Israel and AIPAC have not gone away and I don't think that the Israelis and AIPAC will really allow anything to come of this, and at best they consider this to be a half-assed outreach which is expected to fail, and all they are concerned with is finding a way to blame that on Iran as a justification for further aggressive measures.
Sure, there are "signs" of improved relations, such as a lot of pretty words and the telephone call between Rouhani and Obama etc. etc. but these are "feel good" yet irrelevant issues --- the question is whether the US will finally recognize Iran's NPT rights and will lift the illegal sanctions which have preventing Iran from exercising her sovereign rights as recognized by the NPT, "to the fullest extent possible" and "without discrimination."
And until then, I will only look on with amusement.