The precise details of the reported would-be dealmaking that almost went down in Geneva over the weekend have yet to be released, but diplomatic negotiations with Iran are set to continue later this month — and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani’s first post-conference order of business was to reassure irate Iranians (particularly upset over France’s “adventurist and immature” deal-blocking behavior, go figure) that he has no intention of bowing to any sort of international cease-and-desist orders on their uranium enrichment. Via the AP:
Iranian officials said Sunday the country made progress with world powers during “serious” talks over Tehran’s nuclear program, but insisted the nation cannot be pushed to give up uranium enrichment as negotiations move into tougher ground over ways to ease Western concerns that Iran could one day develop atomic weapons.
… But President Hassan Rouhani and his top envoys seek to assure hard-line critics that Iran will not make sweeping concessions in the negotiations, which ended without agreement in Geneva early Sunday and are scheduled to resume next week. …
In an address to parliament, Rouhani said uranium enrichment is a “red line” that cannot be crossed.
“Nuclear rights in the international framework, including uranium enrichment, on its soil” are not negotiable, Rouhani was quoted as saying by the semiofficial ISNA news agency. “For us red lines are not crossable.” …
France’s main contention with the apparent deal on the table was that it didn’t come down hard enough on Iran’s enrichment levels; the Associated Press helpfully points out that Iran’s current highest-level enrichment stands at 20 percent, and that “such material is needed for Iran’s lone research reactor, which makes isotopes for medical treatments, but is only just several steps away from warhead level at more than 90 percent enrichment. Energy-producing reactors use uranium enriched at levels of about 3.5 percent.” Indeed.
Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, took to the Sunday airwaves to give his take on the talks:
I’d say a number of nations, not just the French, but ourselves and others, wanted to make sure that we had the tough language necessary, the clarity in the language necessary, to be absolutely certain that we were doing the job and not granting more or doing something sloppily that could wind up with a mistake. This is serious business, and I think every country came there, this is the first time that the P5 had come together with this kind of a serious set of possible options in front of it with a new Iranian government. Remember, that this has changed since the election, this is a new overture, and it has to be put to the test very, very carefully. So, I think there was unity there, David, with respect to getting it right. We always said, President Obama has been crystal clear, Don’t rush, we’re not in a rush, we need to get the right deal. No deal is better than a bad deal, and we are certainly adhering to that concept.
Except that, evidently, there wasn’t unity on that concept, although Kerry went on to say that the Obama administration is “not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid” when it comes to keeping Iran in check. …If you say so.