Iran’s UN envoy on war, peace, and nuclear diplomacy


Iran’s envoy to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee sat down with Barbara Slavin and myself for a long interview Tuesday to discuss the Iran nuclear negotiations.

“It is possible to close the gap,” Khazaee told us, referring to the two sides’ mismatched proposals for resolving the nuclear dispute. But tremendous mistrust prevails on both sides.

I asked Khazaee about international insistence  that Iran take the first step–something more concrete than the Supreme Leader’s re-issuance of his fatwa against nuclear weapons.

He suggested  that agreement on a 20% deal was “not off the table.”

He also revealed some more details about the P5+1’s proposal to Iran, beyond the requests that Iran take as a first step: stop 20% enrichment, ship out its 20% stockpile, and stop operations at Fordo. He noted what he described as highly provisional language used for proposed reciprocal steps offered in the P5+1 package. “There is no promise in the proposal. “There is ‘consideration, thinking, trying,”’ he said, before giving several examples.

“Step two was capping enrichment at 5% as well as [ending production of] the heavy water in Arak, in exchange for ‘thinking, finding a way’ for removal of unilateral sanctions,” the Iranian envoy said.

The third step “is that Iran should implement fully the Security Council resolutions,”  requiring Iran to suspend all enrichment,” he said. “Then they will ‘consider’ remov[ing] the [UN] sanctions.”

Still, he acknowledged, the P5+1 proposal as he described seemed to lay out at least a provisional road-map for longer term easing of sanctions and normalization of international ties that Iran says it has been seeking.

“How to take steps forward,” he said. “That’s the issue that lawyers and technicians…can discuss.”

Read our piece here and more excerpts from our interview here.