In DepthScience Diplomacy

Iran's atomic czar describes the art of the deal

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Science  14 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6249, pp. 674-675
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6249.674

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Last February, nuclear talks between Iran and world powers were foundering. The two sides had found common ground on the deal's broad outlines, but the devil lay in the technical details. Stymied, Iranian officials asked their top nuclear scientist to join the talks: Ali Akbar Salehi, president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. In an exclusive interview with Science in Tehran, Salehi, 66, related how he would only agree if his opposite number in the United States, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, sat across from him at the table. The result was several weeks of intense science diplomacy between the two physicists, who overlapped at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the early 1970s, when Salehi was earning a Ph.D. there in nuclear engineering. They helped overcome technical obstacles, and last month Iran and the P5+1—the United States and its five allies—reached an agreement that is designed to block Iran's paths to a nuclear weapon in exchange for a gradual lifting of sanctions imposed as a result of Iran's nuclear program.