03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Don't Sacrifice Democracy in Iran Nuke Talks

At last, talks between the West and Iran over its nuclear program may be getting somewhere as negotiators sit down in Vienna. After the dramatic revelation of Iran's secret Qom enrichment plant at the G-20 summit in a joint appearance by President Obama, British Prime Minister Brown and French President Sarkozy, Iran has given a little. They are allowing IAEA inspectors into the plant on October 25 and seem willing to consider sending enriched uranium abroad to reprocess for medical use -- thus diverting it from any bomb development.

What impact, if any, might this fragile new relationship have on the so-called democratic "green movement" in Iran, led by former presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi, that is still protesting the election results?

I put this question to Shirin Ebaid, the Nobel laureate for peace and human rights activist
from Iran. Here is what she said:

Its impact will depend on whether the nuclear energy issue is negotiated alone, or if democracy and human rights, too, are on the agenda of the talks. Because in the latter case, people in Iran will understand that the West is interested in their fate as much as it cares about its own security, which will strengthen the green movement.

But if in the negotiations, the West sacrifices democracy to gain on the nuclear issue front, naturally the impact is negative. It does not mean the movement will subside, but the people of Iran will be left alone in their struggle.