Iran has struck up a new, conciliatory chord on negotiations about its nuclear program. And its leaders say it’s eager to get down to business, CNN reports.
Foreign minister Javad Zarif reiterated Iran’s apparent haste to reach an international agreement on its energy program in a statement Monday.
Zarif hopes that together Iran and the West will be able to work out a “roadmap” a day after Iran presents its latest plan at the U.N. to secure its energy independence and build international trust.
He would like an additional meeting on Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, with ministers from the countries from the P5+1 in order to hammer out the details, he said on his Facebook account.
The meeting would include the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – the countries with permanent seats on the UN Security Council – plus Germany.
“As I’ve said before, a rather difficult and time consuming process begins tomorrow,” Zarif wrote. “Hopefully by Wednesday we can agree on a roadmap to reach a solution. But even if the other party, in good faith, agrees on the details, a new ministerial meeting will be needed.”
Zarif’s statement follows an apparent about-face in Iran’s tone towards the United States and its Western allies that has set in since the election in Iran of its new president, Hassan Rouhani, who replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad was known for caustic and threatening rhetoric towards the United States and Israel. Rouhani has struck a much friendlier tone.
During his visit to the UN General Assembly in late September, Rouhani’s diplomatic approach raised hopes in the West of a thaw with Iran and progress in negotiations on its nuclear program.
Many fear Iran is pursuing the development of a nuclear bomb. Iran has always maintained that it is developing nuclear energy capabilities for peaceful purposes only.
Zarif’s Facebook post is not surprising and is on message with his own previous statements and with those of his colleague Ali Larijani, Iran’s powerful speaker of the parliament and a close associate of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei.
Iran is serious about resolving the dispute over its nuclear program, and is keen to resolve the issue “in a short period of time,” the speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Larijani, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview last week.
“From Iran’s side, I can say that we are ready,” Larijani said from Geneva.
“If the Americans and other countries say that Iran should not develop a nuclear bomb or should not move towards that,” he told Amanpour, “then we can clearly show and prove that. We have no such intention. So it can be resolved in a very short period of time.”
Nonetheless, Larijani said, the West must accept Iran’s right to enrich nuclear fuel for civilian purposes, as allowed under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory.
Critics have expressed suspicions over that enrichment, fearing the Iran may secretly be transforming nuclear fuel into atomic bomb-grade materials.
Some believe that Iran’s recent opening and seeming willingness to negotiate seriously over its nuclear program may be a result of crippling sanctions on its economy.
Shortly after this year’s U.N. General Assembly ended, a State Department official said the United States would be prepared to consider relaxing certain sanctions on Iran if it engaged in confidence-building steps to prove its sincerity to negotiate over its disputed nuclear program. But this will take time and trust building.
Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is in Geneva, has made clear that the entire sanctions regime targeting Iran would not be lifted “any time soon” unless the entire litany of concerns about Iran’s nuclear program were fully addressed.