Iran Meeting Snub Could Signal Limited Nuke Bargaining Ability

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 25, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

White House in­siders fear that Ir­a­ni­an Pres­id­ent Has­san Rouh­ani turned down a brief meet­ing pro­posed for Tues­day with Pres­id­ent Obama to avoid a do­mest­ic polit­ic­al back­lash, pos­sibly sig­nal­ing that the re­l­at­ively mod­er­ate lead­er lacks ad­equate au­thor­ity in Tehran to settle an in­ter­na­tion­al stan­doff over its sus­pec­ted nuc­le­ar-arms am­bi­tions, the Wall Street Journ­al re­por­ted.

Wash­ing­ton of­fi­cials on Tues­day con­ferred at a “work­ing level” with Ir­a­ni­an coun­ter­parts to or­ches­trate a brief en­counter between the lead­ers at the U.N. Gen­er­al As­sembly, but “it be­came clear that that was too com­plic­ated for [the Ir­a­ni­ans] at this time,” a high-level Obama in­sider told re­port­ers on Tues­day.

Rouh­ani gave a speech re­af­firm­ing his coun­try’s de­term­in­a­tion to con­tin­ue en­rich­ing urani­um for peace­ful use, even though Wash­ing­ton and oth­er gov­ern­ments worry Tehran could har­ness the pro­cess to gen­er­ate bomb fuel. Earli­er on Tues­day, Obama urged Tehran to abide by U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil de­mands for Ir­an to fully sus­pend its urani­um en­rich­ment pro­gram.

Obama in­siders told the Journ­al that Rouh­ani’s ad­dress did not catch them off guard. “Ir­an has a baseline set of po­s­i­tions they have taken for a long time,” one high-level source said. “We would not ex­pect them to shift their ne­go­ti­ations pub­licly.”

Mean­while, the Ir­a­ni­an For­eign Min­istry on Tues­day called for a “time lim­it” on any new nuc­le­ar dis­cus­sions with China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States. Tehran would stress its “right of en­rich­ment on Ir­a­ni­an ter­rit­ory” in any new meet­ing, spokes­wo­man Mar­z­i­yeh Afkham ad­ded.

Ir­an’s top dip­lo­mat and del­eg­ates from the six ne­go­ti­at­ing gov­ern­ments are ex­pec­ted on Thursday to con­sider the “trend” of pri­or meet­ings, the spokes­wo­man said, adding that “an agree­ment has been struck to con­tin­ue the talks in mid-Oc­to­ber in Geneva.”

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