In a roomful of world leaders at a security conference in Munich, Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Sunday that his country is prepared to resume nuclear negotiations in Kazakhstan. To be precise, Akbar said that his country has given "positive consideration" to one-on-one talks with the United States. Akbar's statements suggest that Iran has accepted the invitation from the European Union, who's coordinating the talks for six Western powers including the United States, for nuclear talks on February 25 in the former Soviet republic. "We have proposed concrete dates and venue ever since early December," said EU spokesman Michael Mann. "Our latest proposal had indeed been Kazakhstan in the week of 25 February after other proposals had not worked. So it is good to hear that the foreign minister finally confirmed now. We hope the negotiating team will also confirm."
But as a number of people have pointed out, it's very unclear if that will actually happen. First of all, Akbar doesn't necessarily have the authority to green light the talks. Julian Borger at The Guardian explains, "Nuclear talks are led by a foreign policy adviser to Iran's supreme leader, not by the foreign ministry." Furthermore, just because Iran says its going to do something, certainly doesn't mean that they'll actually do it. And then, even if they do show up, it's unclear if they really are committed to negotiating or just trying to get Western powers to lift the many crippling sanctions currently in place, which is exactly what Iran did in Moscow last June during the last nuclear talks. Vice President Joe Biden was at the conference in Munich and said, unequivocally, that the U.S. means business. "That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible, and there has to be an agenda that they're prepared to speak to," said Biden. "We're not prepared to do it just for the exercise."