Iran In Brief

Is Iran relenting on nuclear talks?

Is Iran relenting on nuclear talks? photo

August 18, 2009

The BBC and other media outlets are reporting today that Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s Ambassador to UN Missions in Vienna, including the IAEA, has indicated Iran’s readiness to participate in talks with the West “based on mutual respect” and “without preconditions.” Foreign Policy’s blog , The Cable has some excellent early analysis of this development [ article updated following Tuesday’s comments].

ISIS would add that Iran’s choice of language in its announcement appears deliberate and mirrors closely that used by President Obama in his March 20 Iranian New Year’s greeting in which he said that the United States seeks “engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”  So we are optimistic that Iran is sincere in its desire for talks.  Shifting the focus to a high-profile foreign policy issue is also an effective way for Iran to deflect attention from its ongoing internal crisis of leadership, and for the regime to seek support for its legitimacy from abroad.  What remains unclear is whether that search for legitimacy will translate into substantive change on its nuclear program.

Update

It appears now that Soltanieh has retracted his previous claims regarding Iran’s propensity to begin negotiations. As reported by the Xinhua news agency, Soltanieh was quoted by the state IRIB TV saying that there has been no change in Iran’s position regarding the nuclear issue. According to an AFP report Soltanieh claimed that his previous comments were in regard to the Iranian proposal to the IAEA to ban military strikes against nuclear facilities.

So far it is unclear whether Tehran had to intervene to rein in the previous day’s comments,  whether Soltanieh simply revealed more about Iran’s negotiating policy than he wished to, or, whether Iran is seriously interested in restarting the nuclear negotiations in light of the ongoing domestic turmoil and the now fast approaching deadline put forth by the Obama administration. .

email us twitter Share on Facebook