by Jasmin Ramsey
On Saturday Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who now heads the country’s nuclear negotiating file, said Iran expects a new proposal from the 6-world power p5+1 negotiating team. “The previous plan given to Iran belongs to history and they must enter talks with a new point of view,” said Zarif during an interview with Iranian state TV on Saturday. Zarif recently returned to Tehran from New York where he had a historic 30-minute private meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The Iranian delegation’s trip was generally well-received domestically and the US-Iran meeting aroused a substantial amount of optimism almost everywhere about upcoming nuclear talks slotted for Oct. 15-16 in Geneva, Switzerland.
For its part, the United States has repeatedly stated that it wants a response from Iran to the proposal put forward by the P5+1 in Almaty in February. Kerry reiterated this today. And while Kerry and Zarif were cordial in New York, the proximity of the Geneva talks means that we’re now going to see much more hardened rhetoric from both sides — which shouldn’t necessarily be taken at face value.
“Kerry appears to reject Iran’s call for new nuclear proposal” blares a Washington Post headline from today, leading from a quote from Kerry’s joint press conference with his Russian counterpart in Bali, Indonesia. Of course, Kerry, who will now be directly involved in the negotiating process, like Zarif, can’t be expected to reveal any hope he may have about the new round of talks, which will involve a new Iranian negotiating team. Indeed, according to Iran analyst Reza Marashi, a lot of what we’re going to hear and see ahead of the talks will be political posturing.
“Both sides are trying to assign responsibility to the other so if things take a turn for the worst there’s less culpability and responsibility,” Marashi, who formerly worked at the State Department’s Iran desk, told LobeLog. “There’s probably enough private communication between the two sides so that nobody walks blind into Geneva, and Secretary Kerry and Dr. Zarif’s meeting in New York was a good example of that, but nobody wants the ball in their court at this point,” he said. “We’ve seen this sort of thing in the run-up to each round of talks.”