Khamenei Downplays Progress in Nuclear Talks

Comments Contrast With Upbeat Estimates of Diplomats

by Jason Ditz, March 07, 2013

Iranian officials have been cheering the progress from last week’s talks, declaring them a “turning point” in years of negotiations with the P5+1. Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seems considerably less optimistic.

“The Westerners did not do any substantial work that could be interpreted as concessions,” Khamenei said in comments broadcast on Iranian state media, adding “they minimally admitted part of the rights of the Iranian nation, only.”

Khamenei did say that the talks would continue, saying only that he will “judge the intentions of the West in the next talks,” likely the scheduled side talks in Istanbul or next month’s talks in Kazakhstan.

As Supreme Leader Khamenei has the final say on any nuclear deal, though his pessimism may reflect similarly pessimistic comments from US officials, who have insisted that no deal is close and that time is “running out,” but they stand in stark contrast to Iran’s top diplomats, who seem convinced something can be worked out.

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