The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that he was not hopeful about working with the United States in the nuclear negotiations, but given the economic pressure on Iranians and the sensitivity of the negotiations, he would remain silent.
After speaking with members of the Student Basij organization, Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Jaffari gave an interview to Mehr News. Asked about his prediction for the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany taking place in Vienna, Jaffari said, “I really do not know what will happen in these negotiations. One cannot be optimistic about America. It seems that we will encounter problems in the negotiations. Of course, I am hopeful it will not be like this.”
In his speech earlier, Jaffari suggested that he was not content with the current process but that possibility of the removal of sanctions has priority at the moment.
“Because the negotiations are at a sensitive point and so we don’t give anyone an excuse, for now we have to remain silent and keep this lump in our throat,” Jaffari said. He explained that the “main goal was to reduce the economic pressure on the people, which is very important, so we have to pass this with consideration.”
Using a term introduced by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Jaffari said, “The administration has entered the negotiations with heroic flexibility.” In a September 2013 speech to IRGC commanders, Khamenei said that he was “not opposed to correct diplomacy,” something he described as “heroic flexibility,” “just like a wrestler that due to technical reasons shows flexibility, [and] must not forget who his opponent and enemy is.”
However, Jaffari added that “principles must be upheld” and as a result of the negotiations, either “The pressure of sanctions must be decreased or the officials of the country must give up hope in outside [countries] and focus on domestic capabilities.” He added that either scenario is “positive,” “on the condition that no red lines are crossed.” He did not elaborate on what those red lines are, but did say that Ayatollah Khamenei would “also not allow it.”
According to the Fars News transcript, Jaffari also addressed the “maliciousness of the enemies” of Iran. “They take these positions and damage our national esteem,” he said. “Certainly our officials can take a better position so that our national pride is not put under question to this extent.”
It is not clear exactly which positions Jaffari is referring to, but many Iranian officials have objected to the comments of “all options on the table” by US officials. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also heads the nuclear negotiations, has done his best to downplay the comments by US officials as simply being for “domestic consumption.” But not everyone is convinced. Last week, Iranian parliament member Mohammad Nabavian said that US officials ramped up their rhetoric against Iran after the November 2013 interim nuclear deal was signed, which proves that the deal weakened Iran’s position.