With just six days to go before the July 20 deadline for nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1, Tehran is obviously on everyone’s minds these days. True, Iran is involved in the civil war raging in Syria and Iraq, and Teheran’s fingerprints can be found in Gaza too. Let that not disturb the party terming Tehran as “the last best hope in the Middle East.
One of the most interesting stories on Iran in recent days came from The Daily Beast, which analyzed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s July 7 speech in which he, surprisingly and uncharacteristically, began to “talk hard numbers” about the ongoing talks.
Shocking seasoned analysts, Khamenei spoke about nuclear enrichment in great technical detail, leading The Daily Beast to speculate that his speech was intended not for his followers, but for the negotiating team in Vienna and their Western counterparts. After announcing last December that he would not interfere in the negotiations, Khamenei spilled the beans on Iran’s position, “marking his line in the sand” while proclaiming support for Hassan Rouhani’s government.
The Guardian also picked up on Khamenei’s change of pace, but analyzed it in less detail, saying only that his speech insisting on a greater uranium enrichment capacity was “unusually detailed” and that his move to expose Tehran’s position could make it “harder to get a deal.”
The New York Times, meanwhile, interpreted the speech as aimed at the Iranian public, adding only that Khamenei’s speech “worried” US and European officials because it indicated the leader wasn’t preparing his people for nuclear cutbacks.
And in Vienna? Reuters quoted a US official as saying yesterday that Iran has stuck to “unworkable and inadequate” positions, despite the looming deadline. A result of Khamanei’s hard bargain in the nuclear bazaar?