IRAN: OFFICIALS’ NUCLEAR RHETORIC

However, Zarif’s more candid remarks strongly indicate that this impression is not sincere. According to the Iranian state news agency Press TV, Zarif said in a session with parliament, “Our position on the number of centrifuges is clear and the opposite side’s insistence will have no bearing on this issue.” Of course, the upfront disregard for the opposite side’s positions is contrary to the very concept of diplomatic negotiations, and Zarif’s comments cast serious doubt on whether Iran had ever been negotiating in good faith.

Of course, such obstinate statements are not uncommon among Iranian officials and have been a familiar feature of the supreme leader’s statements about negotiations. The Tehran Times also reports that Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday that Iran’s desire for a nineteen-fold expansion of its enrichment capability was an absolute position, although the timeline for that increase was still considered negotiable.

Furthermore, Tasnim News Agency reports that Ahmad Reza Dastgheib, the deputy chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that if a nuclear deal is not reached between Iran and the P5+1, Iran will immediately return to the 20 percent uranium enrichment that it reportedly suspended under the terms of the Joint Plan of Action. Dastgheib is by no means the first member of parliament to make this threat in hopes of either pushing the US to accept a one-sided deal or derailing the talks. 

Notably, Mr. Zarif’s comments to parliament also declared that the West would not have an “everlasting chance” to secure a deal – a remark that seems to accuse the US and its allies of delaying the talks when in fact those parties have offered multiple positions that have been rejected by Iran, which still maintains demands that are almost universally regarded as untenable.