Iranian Officials Give Mixed Reviews of Nuclear Talks

Really moderate, or just for show? Iranian President Rouhani. Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

Really moderate, or just for show? Iranian President Rouhani. Illustrative. FEMA/Marty Bahamonde.

US President Barack Obama has said there is a 50-50 chance of reaching a deal with Iran that resolves concerns about their nuclear program, and Iranian officials agree a deal can be reached. But whether those officials believe that 50-50 chance is the glass half empty or half full depends on which quote you read.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was quoted by PressTV as saying on Wednesday that considering the “good process of the negotiations, we are on the threshold of settling the issue.” However, just last week another Iranian official sounded less optimistic. Regardless, both Iranian officials think that the problem is the West.

The discussions between Iran and major world powers is an effort to ensure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. Concerns about the program and possible military dimensions has led to multiple United Nations resolutions and sanctions against Iran.

Proving that years of secrecy, an underground facility and explosives testing are over should put the burden of proof on Iran, but they of course feel it is up to the West to make the concessions needed for a deal to be reached.

Rouhani, in his comments covered by PressTV, said that if the other side “stops making excuses, this issue can be settled well.”

Similarly, an Iranian official quoted by the Fars News Agency last week accused the West of making “excessive demands” in the negotiations.

A key point of division has been the Iranian missile program. The US has repeatedly said that missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons have been included in UN concerns and that those need to be addressed in a nuclear deal. Iran has repeatedly refused to include missiles in talks.

Fars reported that Iranian deputy chief negotiator Seyed Abbas Araqchi made it clear they would fight for their positions in the talks. “There is no push to obtain an agreement by July 20 at any price,” Araqchi said on Friday, further noting that “we (only) concede to an agreement which will be in line with our interests, meet our demands and establish the Iranian nation’s rights.”

So it looks as though Iran is sticking to their guns, literally. Will the West? And if they both play tough in the talks, is a deal really possible?

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 20, 2014)



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