Tuesday, December 07, 2010

IRAN - The Not-Real Talks Resume

"Iranian Nuclear Program: Will U.S. Concede Anything in Talks?" PBS Newshour Transcript 12/6/2010


MARGARET WARNER (Newshour): And, for more, we turn to Suzanne Maloney, a former U.S. State Department official who dealt with Iran issues. She's now a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

And, Suzanne Maloney, thank you for being with us. So, with this -- all this defiant language, what is it that drove Iran to return to these talks after more than a year?

SUZANNE MALONEY, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution: (AUDIO GAP) result of the U.N. sanctions and a number of unilateral measures undertaken by the U.S., the Europeans and other governments.

But the other issue that I think really brought the Iranians back is their hope to use this kind of a dialogue to splinter the international coalition, to undercut sanctions, and to ensure that they're still dealing with the world beyond Iran.

MARGARET WARNER: So, you do think that, in part, this is being used by them to buy time, but they are also feeling the heat?

SUZANNE MALONEY: They're certainly feeling the heat.

And we know that the standards of doing business today in Iran are much more difficult, much less convenient, much more expensive than they used to be, simply because they can't undertake the normal sort of banking procedures that they typically would.

But, obviously, the Iranians don't appear to be in a mood to concede. They don't -- they are not talking about making any real concessions. And it's not even clear that they're willing to talk about the nuclear program at all. So, I think they're less interested in serious negotiations, more interested in trying to see what they can get out of this process.
MARGARET WARNER: But for them to hear, for instance, how emphatically a lot of the Arab states have been urging the U.S. to strike sites inside Iran, do you think that makes them feel a bit exposed and maybe vulnerable, or -- or defiant?

SUZANNE MALONEY: Defiant, in part because the Arabs say something very different when they come to Tehran. If you had a WikiLeaks dump of the Tehran cables, it would read very differently.

And they -- they recognize that the Arabs say one thing to Washington, say something different to them, and that they can play on the constraints that the Arab states have in making that kind of a position public in order to assert themselves.

I think, in fact, probably the larger factor at this stage is the killing of the nuclear scientist last week. That played very significantly in the statement that they made today at the talks, and appears to have put them in a more combative mood than they were in even before this.

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