Mohammad Javad Larijani, a top adviser to Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seems like a reasonable fellow with respect to Iran’s nuclear stance in this March 12th interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
On the West’s issue with Iranian enrichment of uranium to 20%, Mr. Larijani says we simply need to go back to the era when Iran was able to buy the fuel it needs for its Tehran Research Reactor (TRR). “The minute they sell it to us, the amount we need for the Tehran reactor, there is definitely no need to produce it,” he said.
On the issue of Iran’s slow but steady advancement of is nuclear program, Mr. Larijani argues that Iran’s enrichment of uranium is an “honest to God right” that’s also covered by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and “we are a moving nation, we are going to capture higher levels of scientific achievement” regardless of Western demands. Then the reasonable part kicks in full-swing: however, if concerns about Iran’s nuclear program are related to the issue of nuclear armament, Iran understands and shares that concern, claims Mr. Larijani, adding that Iran is “willing to accept all mechanisms under the NPT” to safeguard against such development.
And with respect to the possibility of bilateral talks between Iran and the US (which already occurred back in October 2009), Mr. Larijani is less direct. He doesn’t confirm or reject the possibility, but does offer a “recommendation” that a “new model” be designed for relations between Iran and the United States which acknowledges that Iran does not want to be more than “what we are” and ends US hostility toward Iran.
Excluding Mr. Larijani’s comments about the political battle between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s ruling elite, which Mr. Larijani describes as part of Iran’s “democratic structure”, all this raises the question of why Iran isn’t perceived as reasonable during negotiations or can’t be as reasonable as Mr. Larijani seems to be here with Amanpour on CNN, and why progress on the diplomatic front remains slow at best or simply nil. Deep mutual mistrust, acknowledged by the most knowledgeable US-Iran analysts, is perhaps the main reason for the lack of substantial results, as are those pesky details that need to be agreed upon by both sides before a deal can be reached.
Then there’s that lingering issue of whether progress can even be hoped for before Iran’s 2013 Presidential election, and for that I turn to the experts. I’ll have an interview that touches on that issue and the nuclear negotiations as a whole with Farideh Farhi up next week.