Iran nuclear talks negotiators likely to demand western change of heart

Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 00:00

When Iran’s nuclear negotiating team sits down with its western counterparts in Almaty, Kazakhstan, today, it will offer no new plans or suggestions, people familiar with the views of the Iranian leadership say. More likely, they say, the Iranian negotiators will sit with arms crossed, demanding a western change of heart.

Iran’s leaders believe the effects of western sanctions have been manageable, and Iran continues to make progress on what it says is a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Iran’s leaders see that North Korea, which openly admits that it wants nuclear weapons, has performed three nuclear tests without suffering any real penalties. As a result, Iran’s leaders feel that they, not the West, hold the upper hand in negotiations.

“The West has no option but stopping to threaten Iran and reduce sanctions,” said Kazem Anbarloui, the editor-in-chief of state newspaper Resalat, who was appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “But it seems they just want to talk for the sake of talks.”

Further signalling they expect a grand gesture, Iranian officials last week turned down a western proposal to gradually lift sanctions on trading in gold in return for the closing of a bunker enrichment facility called Fordo. They said the site, which is under an inspection regime by the UN nuclear watchdog, would never be shut down, because it afforded protection against attacks, particularly from Israel.

“Such a proposal would only help the Zionist regime to threaten our facilities,” an influential lawmaker, Ala’edin Borujerdi, told reporters. “They would never dare to attack us, but why would we tempt them?”

In recent days, dozens of Iranian politicians have made defiant statements, urging the United States and other nations to accept Iranian nuclear “realities”, which means unconditional acceptance of Iran’s nuclear energy program. – New York Times