Father of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, who was killed in a January 2012 car explosion along with his driver in north Tehran, has expressed his unhappiness about the nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1). He believes that the efforts of his son and his former colleagues are left in a precarious state as reports emerge of some scientists being re-assigned. He added that any future or permanent deal should include finding the culprits behind his son’s assassination.
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.
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.
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.”
Speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali Larijani’s comments in an Associated Press interview regarding a “surplus” of enriched uranium has been denied by parliament’s public-affairs department.
In the interview, conducted through an interpreter, Larijani, who was in Geneva participating in the Assembly for Inter-Parliamentary Union, was quoted as saying about Iran’s enriched uranium, “We have some surplus — you know, the amount that we don’t need. But over that, we can have some discussions.”
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.
In his speech to members of the judiciary yesterday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed Iran’s elections, the need to help president-elect Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s nuclear file with the West.
In regard to negotiations with the West, Khamenei said, “Several countries have formed an opposition front to Iran and they lie to the international community. Through stubbornness they want to solve the nuclear issue. But if they put aside their stubbornness, solving the nuclear issue is simple and easy.”
Iran’s presidential candidates have been taking turns participating in special 45-minute interviews with Iran’s Channel 2. After a short introduction, candidates sit with the host of the series, Hassan Abedini, to present their positions to the Iranian public.
Most interviews with the taciturn Abedini have been uneventful. The candidates would talk for long stretches unchallenged, mostly in general terms. Even bizarre moments like that when apparent frontrunner Saeed Jalili suggested that Iran offset some of the Western sanctions against Iran by investing in popsicle-stick factories went challenged.
However, former nuclear negotiator and presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani’s interview took a surprising turn in which he went on the offensive, even at point challenging Abedini directly. Rouhani defended his time as nuclear negotiator, criticized Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
Rouhani, who is a member of the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, presented himself as a “moderate” who has worked with all sides and has avoided extremism in his views. Rouhani is also close to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. He was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years and in charge of nuclear negotiations from 2003 to 2005.
In the first question regarding Rouhani’s time as nuclear negotiator, Abedini made a reference to P5+1 negotiations, to which Rouhani corrected him: “Mr. Abedini, don’t be mistaken in your question. My negotiations were with the EU-3, not P5+1.” Rouhani then explained the conditions which previous negotiations took place, saying, “What did America want to do? They wanted to send our case to the UN Security Council. They wanted what he had technologically to not be complete. We were after an opportunity to complete our technology.”
Rouhani said that when the three ministers of Europe were invited to Iran, they promised to veto America at the UN with respect to Iran’s nuclear program. He continued, “And this was during the era of Bush, when crazy neocons had attacked Afghanistan, occupied Iraq and everyone said that Iran is next. … During that era, we didn’t allow war. We didn’t allow our case to go to the Security Council.” Rouhani said of his era, “During that time, we started with ministers and then started negotiating with the presidents. This is what we should do today.”
Abedini then asked him about specific agreements and suspensions that took place in the nuclear program when Rouhani was in charge of negotiations. Rouhani responded, “What you said is a lie, you know it’s a lie. … This talk is what ignorant people say, you are versed in this.” Rouhani continued, rather excitedly and with a smile, “Maybe the person speaking to you in your earpiece doesn’t know, but you know.” After another challenge by Abedini, Rouahni responded, “It’s good for you to read history.” Rouahani then started listing Iran’s achievements during the era in question, incrementally raising his volume and emphasis with each achievement.
“We suspended the program?” Rouhani asked rhetorically. “We completed the program. This is unethical behavior of the IRIB that has gotten into you. And the person who is speaking into your earpiece, this unethical behavior has gotten into him too.” Abedini then interrupted him: “I have read your book from beginning to end twice.” To this, Rouhani responded, “Well done, please read it a third time.”
Of Iran’s IRIB state TV, which technically operates under the administration but is generally believed to controlled by or at least close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani said, “I wish there were justice at IRIB. I wish there were constructive criticism, which we would be thankful for. But if someone is attacked and accused on IRIB, for them not to have to call the head of the IRIB and see if he has permission to go on or not. It would be good if someone was attacked one night and the next morning they would be invited and have the opportunity to speak too. Many prominent figures, many people who have been lashed with a whip in the Shah’s government, many people who were close to Ayatollah Khomeini, have been insulted on IRIB. Unfortunately, IRIB has not acted justly. … Mr. Abedini, tell the head of your organization that those who have been insulted once in a while, and sometimes some have been insulted a lot, give them time, allow them to defend themselves. It won’t hurt. Don’t waste the capital of the revolution.”
Rouhani also attacked Ahamdinejad’s trip to New York for the UN General Assembly, on which he took many family members and reporters with him. “Do you know what justice is, Mr. Abedini?” Rouhani asked. “It means when an official gets into a plane to go to another country, he doesn’t fill the plane with his wife, children and reporters. He should take entrepreneurs. We should learn from Turkey. Wherever their prime minister goes, he takes 100 to 200 entrepreneurs with him.”
Rouhani talked about the instability in the country and the effect it has on unemployment. “We have 3,300,000 unemployed. … Let’s assume it’s three million. If these people are put to work and their output is one million [toman] each [per month], that’s 3,000 billion toman [$2.8 billion]. And the people remember this figure well.” In September of 2011, it was revealed that 3,000 billion toman was embezzled through private and state-owned banks. Some accused Ahmadinejad of having a hand in the embezzlement, although no one directly connected to him was tried.
Rouhani continued, “Because of the embezzlement, the people remember this 3,000 billion. It wasn’t just that embezzlement, which had its day in court. I think it in the court of the people’s conscience. Many should be tried because they haven’t done anything for these three million unemployed. Which family today doesn’t have someone who isn’t unemployed? If the administration had a plan, this couldn’t be solved?”
“Our 20-year outlook was that our rate of growth would be at least eight percent; now it is at three percent, on average. … Which country in our region has a 30% inflation rate? Saudi Arabia has an inflation of 2.9%, and our inflation is above 30% and in certain areas above 40%. Food products in the last 12 months saw an inflation rate of 58%. Why? Because there is no growth in production.” Rouhani then went on to list the number of unemployed college graduates in Iran in different fields.