Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council. His book is a “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.”
Talks over a nuclear deal with Iran are in their final stages before Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline. Progress has been reported on several issues, including limiting centrifuges at Iran’s main nuclear facility to around 6,000. But Iran has reportedly backed off a key pledge to enrich its atomic fuel overseas. Iranian officials are said to have previously agreed to sending uranium stockpiles to Russia, but now want to keep the fuel inside the country. The demand could still be overcome by agreements on regular inspections and sufficiently diluting the fuel. If a preliminary deal is reached by Tuesday, a final agreement would follow by the end of June. From the Swiss city of Lausanne where the talks are underway, we are joined by Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council.
AMY GOODMAN: Graham Nash, “Military Madness.” Here on Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn to talks over a nuclear deal with Iran which are in their final stages before Tuesday’s self imposed deadline. Progress has been reported on several issues, including limiting centrifuges at Iran’s main nuclear facility to around 6000. But, Iran has backed off a pledge to enrich its atomic fuel overseas. Iranian officials are said to have previously agreed to sending uranium stockpiles to Russia but now want to keep fuel inside Iran. The demand could still be overcome by agreements on regular inspections, and sufficiently diluting the fuel to ensure it cannot be used for a bomb. The talks continue in the Swiss town of Lausanne, today. If a preliminary deal is reached by Tuesday, a final agreement would follow by the end of June. For more, we go to Lausanne, where the talks are under way, to Trita Parsi, Founder and President of the National Iranian American Council. He is the author of “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.” Can you tell us in this last 24 hours of the self-imposed deadline, where the talks stand and has Iran pulled back on one of the key negotiating points?
TRITA PARSI: Well, there’s a lot of brinkmanship going on right now, both from the Iranian side as well as from other sides in the negotiations. For instance, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is concerned that he’s leaving Lausanne, but, that will be back if there is a deal. And this is also a way to put pressure, but this time on the Iranians. There is a lot of brinksmanship and there is an air of inevitability that there will be a deal, combined, paradoxically with the tremendous amount of uncertainty.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain the reports of what Iran has reversed on, this issue of sending the stockpile to russia. Explain what this is about.
TRITA PARSI: This is very critical, actually, because, if the Iranians retained the stockpile on their own soil, that dramatically changes the calculations when it comes to the breakout capability, which is the amount of time the Iranis would need in order to make a decision to build a bomb and actually have enough material for that bomb. So, this is a big announcement, or course. I think, at the end of the day, we should view it from the perspective that there is brinksmanship going on. I think the reason the Iranians are doing it is because of this. The Iranians have been, in general terms, accepting the demands the U.S. has asked of them. What they have not accepted is what the U.S. is offering in turn. And by sending this signal that they are walking back on something they essentially had accepted that they would give, they are essentially saying that they’re not getting enough in return from the U.S. and what they are referring to there, of course, is sanctions relief. So, if you want to deal without giving as much sanctions relief you are going to get less. But, at the end of the day, I think the Iranians will except shipping out part of that stockpile, at a minimum. But, only if they manage to get some of their demands met as well.
AMY GOODMAN: And right now, the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, says the deal that is about to be reached, and you know, it has been revealed that they were spying on the talks and then shared some of that with Republican lawmakers when Netanyahu came and addressed the Congress. The deal that is about to be reached is the worst one ever. Or the worst one that has been considered. Your response to this, Trita Parsi?
TRITA PARSI: Essentially, the Israeli Prime Minister admits that he was wrong in the past when he was extremely panicky and scare mongering, that he should have actually been more panicked about the situation. By now, this essentially is just background noise, because the Netanyahu government, because of the way they have acted, have made themselves outside players and quite un-influential on what is taking place right now. And in that sense, what they have done has been quite a disfavor to the Israeli state because they have been — there has been so much animosity against the Obama administration that they have essentially neutralized themselves.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Trita, you have just written a piece in The Atlantic, headlined,“Why Iran’s Supreme Leader Wants a Nuclear Deal,” talking about the ayatollah. Why does he want one?
TRITA PARSI: I think what has been widely misunderstood in the U.S. in particular is that there’s been this belief that the supreme leader is an ideological opponent to a deal with the U.S. He is a skeptic without a doubt, but, part of the reason that I think he’s looking favorably towards a deal that he can live with right now is that it will be the first time in 200 years that the Iranians have had a major dispute with the West or the great powers and that it ended up with a negotiation in which the Iranians did not lose; it doesn’t mean that the U.S. lost. What he meant that Iran has managed to get the other great powers to the negotiating table and the end result is a mutual compromise rather than Iranian capitulation. That is, frankly, a first for any country in the middle east.
AMY GOODMAN: Trita Parsi, want to thank you very much for being with us. Founder and President of the National Iranian American Council, his book, “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.” Again the deadline — self-imposed deadline is tomorrow and, of course, we will continue to follow developments. Trita was joining us byDemocracy Now! video stream from Lausanne, Switzerland.