Iranian hard-liners mixed on nuclear agreement

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While most Reformist media and administration officials have touted the latest nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) as a “win-win,” the Iranian hard-line media has had a mixed response, with Kayhan newspaper, whose editor is chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, taking perhaps the harshest stance.

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Newspaper close to Khamenei slams reduced nuclear activities

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With Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) set to meet on Nov. 20 in Geneva to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, Kayhan, whose editor is chosen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has questioned the continuation of talks after it was reported that Iran has reduced some of its nuclear activity, suggesting that a concession to do so was influenced by the same people who, with the help of the United States and Israel, brought millions of protesters to the streets after the contested 2009 presidential  elections.

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Iran: We expect ‘components’ of enrichment to be respected

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Days before another round of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of  UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) that “components” of Iran’s right to enrichment should be respected but that a complete suspension is their red line. He also said that the specifics of enrichment are being negotiated.

While Zarif struck an optimistic tone in the ISNA interview, some Iranian media are predicting this upcoming round of negotiations will not achieve a deal, despite appearing to be close in the previous round.

Zarif said: “Iran’s right to enrichment does not need to be officially recognized because it is a right that according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty is an inseparable right. What we expect is respect for components of these rights. In the previous years, Iran has applied this right, but unfortunately it was not respected.” Rather, he added, it led to sanctions.

“We have reached an extremely sensitive point of the negotiations and I don’t want to discuss the specifics,” Zarif said. “We have officially stated that enrichment certainly has to exist in any framework of an agreement; but how, what methods and where is an issue we are currently negotiating.”

Zarif continued: “Not only do we see the right to enrichment as nonnegotiable, we do not see any necessity for it to be identified as a right, because this right is inseparable, and all of the countries should respect this.”

“In the negotiations with P5+1 we didn’t hear anyone want us to suspend enrichment,” Zarif said. “This issue in the first round (for an interim deal) in general was not the demand of any side. Some of the issues are related to enrichment that it’s possible it is the views of some of the delegations. In the previous negotiations this issue was also discussed but a general suspension is certainly our red line and we are not entering [negotiations] on this red line.”

On how long the specifics of the deal would remain confidential, Zarif said: “We have to reach a result on the various issues. … The negotiations are serious. If we wanted to use negotiations for propaganda purposes as was done in the past, we could have discussed the details in the media, but we want to reach a result and agreement and test every possibility for an agreement while protecting the rights of the Iranian nation.”

While Zarif appeared optimistic about the Nov 20 negotiations, some Iranian media are beginning to think a final deal is out of reach.

Hard-line website Yarasalat wrote that even if an interim deal is agreed to, the United States’ ultimate objective is to have Iran completely suspend their entire nuclear program. Mashregh news called the concessions that the United States put on the table for the interim “low value.” There are various reports that the P5+1 is offering about $10 billion in sanctions relief should they reach an interim deal with Iran. Raja News also balked at the figure, claiming it was close to $6 billion or $7 billion.

Tabnak website wrote: “In all of this optimism, one cannot have certain trust that in a successful nuclear negotiations in Geneva.” Citing various examples, it concluded that the history of negotiations between Iran and the West in the last 10 years has caused a “distrust towards the West.”

No Handshake, But ‘Taboo’ of US-Iran Negotiations Broken

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One of the more anticipated events at the UN General Assembly this week was the possibility of a handshake between US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The handshake, which ultimately did not happen, would have been a first for the presidents of the two countries since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

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Who Will Be on Iran’s P5+1 Negotiating Team?

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Reformist Etemaad newspaper has drawn a list of potentials for President-elect Hassan Rouhani’s new nuclear negotiating team. Yesterday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters that negotiations with the P5+1 will continue once Rouhani takes office and picks a new negotiating new team.

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Rouhani May Take Nuclear File From National Security Council

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A source close to President-elect Hassan Rouhani spoke with Aseman Weekly about the incoming administration’s potential cabinet appointments and behind-the-scenes activities. Traffic at the Center for Strategic Research, a think tank under the Expediency Council headed by Rouhani since 1992, has increased since his surprising election and speculation has run wild about who will fill his top cabinet positions and what influence key players such as former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani will have.

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