Iran and the US are “talking”. One phone call has clearly opened the avenue of communication which has otherwise been closed in the past. What does that mean for the future of Iran and the US? Both sides seem to have a slightly different interpretation of the recent brief connection.
While the feedback from the US Secretary of State John Kerry seems to be that of hope for a quick agreement on Iran's nuclear weapons program, Iran is keeping its distance.
In a report by Reuters, it looks as if the US is striving for a potential agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program within the short period of a three to six month time frame as diplomatic efforts increase. On that same note, President Hassan Rouhani, who suggested the short time frame, has not been clear on possible concessions Iran is willing to make around the program.
In an interview aired on CBS’s “60 Minutes” Kerry states, "It's possible to have a deal sooner than that depending on how forthcoming and clear Iran is prepared to be.”
"If it is a peaceful program, and we can all see that - the whole world sees that - the relationship with Iran can change dramatically for the better and it can change fast," said Kerry.
While some leadership in Iran is supportive of the connection, others are openly in disagreement with what has been called Rouhani’s “fast-paced” outreach. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi had a very different tone than Kerry when speaking to Iranian factions about the call. He assured them that relations would not return to normal just because of one phone call.
While he no longer opposes communication and efforts of talks he was clear in his statement about America. “We never trust America 100 percent,” Araghchi said. “And, in the future, we will remain on the same path. We will never trust them 100 percent.”
What do the people of Iran think?
Upon his return from New York, Rouhani was met with cheers, criticism and even a flying shoe . While the shoe missed, the message was delivered. The Iranian government will be riding a fine line of balance in moving relations forward with the US.
Hamid Rasaei, known to be a conservative lawmaker in Iran disapproved of the call stating it was a “breaking of the resistance brand” of Iran. He called it “undignified” and saw it as a way for the US to claim that Iran is willing to shift its policies.
During a parliament session Sunday, he claimed, "“You converted a win-lose game to a win-win one” for the U.S.”
The US does not see the call as a weakness but rather as a starting point for relations. Kerry said that an immediate opening of the facilities would prove Iran’s sincerity and claim that uranium is only being enriched at low grades and not for military use.
"Iran needs to take rapid steps, clear and convincing steps, to live up to the international community's requirements regarding nuclear programs, peaceful nuclear programs," said Kerry.
"Words are not going to replace actions," he stated. "What we need are actions that prove that we and our allies, our friends in the region, can never be threatened by this program."
In another interview, Iran's foreign minister made clear that peaceful nuclear enrichment was not negotiable but that the country was not seeking to enrich uranium to military-grade levels.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif presented the offer of inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities to inspectors as part of a deal as long as the US was willing to end economic sanctions.
Clarifying that Iran is not seeking to make a nuclear bomb but also firm about Iran’s right to produce nuclear energy, Zarif stated, "If the United States is ready to recognize Iran's rights, to respect Iran's rights and move from that perspective, then we have a real chance.”
Kerry responded regarding the economic sanctions suggesting that they could be lifted if an agreement were to take place which ensured Iran’s nuclear production was in the name of peace. .
"The United States is not going to lift the sanctions until it is clear that a very verifiable, accountable, transparent process is in place, whereby we know exactly what Iran is going to be doing with its program," he said.