Iran and US Talk Tough Ahead of Geneva

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.”

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.



  1. Setting the stage, appeasing the hardliners on both sides, while attempting to solve the situation that the hardliners produced. The beginning is off to a good start, “O” & “R” talking, “K” & “Z” talking, however brief, is positive as I see it. But, I’m not of the party, so what I think matters as -0-. Not withstanding, the doubts and the naysayers will be out in force to sabotage any positive points/results in the up coming talks. So close, yet so far away, I sure don’t envy them. Almost like “damn if the do, damn if they don’t”, at least that’s been the past results.

  2. Wendy Sherman, in her congressional testimony, made it plain that the US position has not changed, and they intend to force Iran to give up enrichment (whatever word games she used to explain that, doesn’t make a difference. The bottom line is the same.) So in effect these talks have already failed, and the only real question is whether the pro-Israel Iran Hawks in Washington can somehow use the failure of the talks — yet again — to blame Iran and foist yet more sanctions and aggressive policies with respect to Iran onto the US govt.

    Iran has been offered to cease 20% enrichment for years, and was in fact involuntarily forced to enrich to 20% in the first place due to US pressure on Argentina to not sell reactor fuel to Iran, even though the reactor in question is NOT a weapons proliferation threat, and was given by the US to Iran, and is used to make isotopes to treat Iran’s 800,000 cancer victims.

    So basically the US is demanding that Iran not make the fuel, and not buy it either, and those 800,000 cancer victims can just go die.

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