Iran Might Reassign Key Nuclear Negotiation Post

Global Security Newswire Staff
August 20, 2013

Iran on Tuesday said its new president may eliminate a conservative national-security body's role in representing the country in multilateral negotiations over Tehran's contested atomic activities, Reuters reported.

"In the past 10 years ... the negotiator has been the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council," but that "may change," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi told reporters.

President Hassan Rouhani could assign the task to his recently confirmed top diplomat, but he has yet to make any final decision, Araqchi said. "We are still waiting for our president to announce which institution is charged with pursuing the nuclear negotiations and afterward to identify the negotiator and the nuclear team," he said.

One unnamed Iranian envoy said, though, that Rouhani already has handed the responsibility to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Associated Press reported.

"The nuclear dossier has been transferred to the Foreign Ministry," the Iranian diplomatic insider said on Tuesday. "Dr. Zarif is now in the process of selecting his negotiating team before preparing for talks" with the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany, the source added.

Tehran would maintain "the same trend strategically as the former government," but it has to alter course "from a technical and tactical point of view," Ali Akbar Velayati, a lead counselor to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told AP in remarks published on Monday. Khamenei holds final say on all Iranian policies.

Velayati called for his country's atomic envoys to confer "one-by-one directly and indirectly" with counterparts from the six other negotiating powers: China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

However, he said that U.S. leaders must "come down from their position" to participate in bilateral talks with Tehran.

"They still believe that they are a superpower," he said.

President Obama could waive certain congressionally imposed economic penalties against Iran under a potential deal with the country, Congressional Research Service expert Kenneth Katzman wrote in an al-Monitor article published on Monday.

"The standard for using the waiver authority has stiffened in recent years, sometimes requiring the administration to certify that invoking the waiver is in the 'vital national security interests of the United States' or a similar formulation," Katzman said.

Obama "has discretion to repeal or amend the executive orders he issues and also has discretion to revoke the designation of any firm as a violator of the orders, thereby ending any penalty for doing business with that entity," he wrote.