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Iranian insider: 'Don't ask for diamonds in return for peanuts'

May 23rd, 2012
05:52 PM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

As meetings took place in Baghdad in hopes of ensuring that Iran isn’t producing a nuclear weapon, and thereby heading off an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, two insiders with knowledge of the negotiations appeared Wednesday on Amanpour.

Ambassador Hossein Mousavian, a former spokesman for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, put the onus on the P5Plus 1 countries (U.S., Britain, Russia, China, France and Germany):  “I’m afraid the P5Plus 1, they ask too much from Iran.  They ask Iran to give diamonds in return for peanuts.”

The diamond in question, he said, is Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.  “The issue is political, not technical.  For the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Iran would have no problem to cooperate to all questions.   But…asking Iran to stop twenty percent (uranium enrichment), to implement additional protocols, to give access beyond additional protocols – this is practically the diamonds the P5 Plus 1 wants.”

He added, “And if they are going to propose Iran spare parts for airplanes (in exchange), these would be the peanuts.”

What’s happening in a closed room

From Washington, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, joined the conversation.  He was asked if the P5 Plus 1 countries might offer something more than peanuts – namely a roll back or lifting of sanctions.

“All negotiations begin with each side putting on the table its most extreme demands,” said Ambassador Pickering.  “The rumor mill was churning here in the last forty eight hours with the idea that sanctions would not be put on the table.  But negotiations have their own dynamic, Christiane, and speculation about what’s happening in a closed room is always very futile.”

“I would count a future meeting as a success here…I’ve long been of the view that to have everything settled in one fell swoop is probably a council of futility.  It’s just too complicated.  There are too many pieces.  There are too many compromises that would have to be made.”

Ambassador Mousavian echoed that reality:  “Iran has proposed a five step plan.  The Russians have prepared a new plan.  The U.S. and European allies – they have prepared a third plan.”

Almost confident

Still, he said he was “almost confident” that if there is a broad package that addresses Iran’s main concerns – “recognizing the rights (to an acceptable percentage of nuclear enrichment) and gradually lifting of sanctions…Iranians would cooperate.”

Ambassador Pickering shared his guarded optimism:  “The good news is that apparently it’s now ten or eleven at night in Baghdad and they haven’t reported out.  I hope this is good news that they’re still talking.”

CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.


Filed under:  Christiane's Brief
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. T1Brit

    Devious and slippery old crook.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:56 am | Reply
  2. Matt

    I think he presented a well-defined and very valid point. Iran has the right to enrich uranium for non-military purposes – and it has never asked for anything else. Yet the United States insists on denying Iran that right without any legal reason.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:28 am | Reply
    • Mark

      I'd say threatening to wipe another nation off the map is pretty good reason to NOT let them have nuclear technology.

      June 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  3. moss

    first of all Iran is in deep problem, imagine once upon a time 33 years ago, 7 units of iran's money could buy one us dollar but today 2000 unit of iran's money can buy one us dollar, this is the economy of mullahs. sir you call yourself an scholar, you don't need to cry wolf, iran do not need atomic bomb, period, kids don't need guns!

    July 14, 2012 at 4:30 am | Reply
  4. Karn

    If Oren isn't lying, and the U.S. and Israel indeed have not dusecsid military action, then my level of worry actually increases. Surely the Israelis are discussing military action amongst themselves. The question in my mind is: will they strike soon, while Iran's domestic situation is chaotic, or will they wait until a sanctions regime has been imposed and clearly failed? In either case it seems to me the odds are better than 50-50 that Israel will hit the nuclear sites in 2010 or 2011.

    August 10, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Reply

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