As reports emerge that the implementation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West has hit the expected bump, two conflicting messages coming out of Tehran shed light on the root of this most recent crisis.
First, we have yet another op-ed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a European newspaper, this time in the Prague Post. In a celebratory message published just after Christmas Day under the title “What Iran Wants in 2014” (a clear effort to speak the West’s language, as the Iranian new year begins in March), Rouhani assured European readers that Tehran is committed not to “work toward developing and producing a nuclear bomb.” But he also states that Iranians will “never forgo our right to benefit from nuclear energy.”
Where does one end and the other begin?
Late last week, the Associated Press reported that Iran “reinterpreted” the interim deal it had signed last month and installed new cutting-edge centrifuges, leading talks in Geneva to be adjourned. Iranian atomic energy agency head Ali Akhbar Salehi’s comments on the matter were taken by The Guardian to signify that Iran was trying to appease hardliners – rather than test the limits of the deal and the patience of its other signatories (the other glaring possibility).
Meanwhile in Tehran, said hardliners drafted a bill that would obligate the state to enrich uranium up to 60 percent in the event that new sanctions are imposed. The move comes in response to last week’s US Senate legislation allowing new sanctions if Iran breaches the Geneva deal.
So Rouhani Christmas cheer aside, behind the scenes Tehran and Washington continue to play a cat-and-mouse game over an interim deal that was supposed to be a done deal but actually is still being negotiated.
Looking forward to the media closing these news gaps when it returns from vacation. Till then, seasons’ greetings to all our readers!