For Tehran, the good news is that a war over its nuclear program is less likely. The bad news is that a president who first came to office determined to “engage” Iran in 2009 has since then engineered crippling sanctions against it, writes Monitor reporter Scott Peterson.
“Relations with the US are not easy and after all the US pressures and crimes against the Iranian people, such relations are not possible [to establish] overnight,” Iran’s judicial chief Sadegh Larijani was quoted as saying by the Fars News Agency. “The Americans should not imagine that they can blackmail our nation by sitting at the negotiating table with Iran.”
“Four years ago, Obama … announced he would extend the hand of cooperation to Iran,” Mr. Larijani further said, according to the official IRNA news agency. “But he pursued a different path and imposed unprecedented sanctions and it is natural the Iranian people will never forget such crimes.”
That narrative about how, in 2009, Obama had extended an “iron hand covered by a velvet glove,” has been repeated several times in the past by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.
Still, credible reports have circulated in recent weeks about back-channel talks between US and Iranian officials, as another round of nuclear talks loom later this month.
“Talks with the US are not a taboo, nor forbidden,” said Mohammed-Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s Human Rights Council and brother of Sadegh, according to Mehr News.
“Iran needs a strategy of interaction with its enemies,” said Mr. Larijani, in remarks that Mehr News inexplicably removed and then restored on its web page. “If it benefits the [Islamic] system, we will negotiate with the US even in the depth of hell.”
Fars News gave a different rendition of Larijani’s words: “Negotiation with the US due to pressure is not acceptable to us,” and could only be “contemplated” as part of a “strategy” laid down by Ayatollah Khamenei.