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.”
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.