Patterico's Pontifications


Not a Good Sign in Iran

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 10:22 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The top Iranian nuclear negotiator has resigned and at least one Middle Eastern expert believes it’s not a good sign for a negotiated settlement with the West.

This NY Times’ article reports the negotiator’s resignation may be a sign that the hard-line elements led by Ahmadinejad have won out:

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, viewed by the West as a moderating influence in Tehran, resigned before crucial talks with Europe this week over Iran’s nuclear program, signaling that officials here may have closed the door to any possible negotiated settlement in its standoff with the West.

The negotiator, Ali Larijani, was among a small group of officials who, while supportive of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, have tried to press back against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his more radical approach, which has left Iran increasingly isolated.

But with Mr. Larijani’s resignation, it appears that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all matters of state, has fallen in squarely behind the president. Mr. Ahmadinejad represents the most radical face of the leadership, which has defied the United Nations Security Council twice and sped up the process of uranium enrichment. Mr. Larijani had been appointed by and reported to the supreme leader.

“This is definitely a major political change, and not necessarily a positive one,” said Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst and former government official. “It might mean that Iran is speeding up its activities and is becoming more radical, especially now with higher oil prices.”

The article reports that Larijani’s resignation caught some American analysts by surprise. In addition, it suggests that last week’s visit from Russia’s Vladimir Putin might be related to the Iranian policy shift:

Since 2005, Iran has taken a two-pronged approach to its nuclear conflict with the West, allowing Mr. Larijani to negotiate with Europe and the International Atomic Energy Agency, while Mr. Ahmadinejad said that there was no room to negotiate and that Iran would not back down.

Now, with oil prices high enough to help Iran mitigate the effects of any new sanctions, and with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, having made a historic trip to Tehran last week, it appears that the top leadership has settled on a single, radical track.

Larijani had been considered a trusted figure of Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei. It was Larijani who suggested that Russia’s Putin delivered a nuclear message to Iran during his visit last week:

The news of Mr. Larijani’s departure came after Mr. Ahmadinejad dismissed his comments that Mr. Putin had delivered a nuclear message to Mr. Khamenei during his Tehran visit last Tuesday. Mr. Ahmadinejad denied that there had been any messages, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.”

Was Larijani let go over a leak? Hard to believe. I think Iran traded its oil for Russian military technology and UN cover, leaving Larijani the odd man out.


4 Responses to “Not a Good Sign in Iran”

  1. Could be Larijani’s running for parliament and wants to marshal a political base in opposition to Ahmadinejad. Iran comes complete with inflated egos and personality conflicts too, I gather.

    Not much suggests Larijani’s a moderate:

    As head of state television between 1994 and 2004, Larijani used his powers to move against reformers with programmes attacking intellectuals and people close to reformist President Mohammad Khatami.

    steve (1c66cc)

  2. I believe the only “moderates” in Iran can be seen occassionally at the prison in Tehran.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  3. Larijani, a former Iranian revolutionary guard general; who crushed dissident voices while at Iranian State Television. Yeah, he’s a moderate, like Andropov was with his scotch and jazz records. He was’nt able to kep up Rouhani’s charade with the IAEA for two years; no need for

    narciso (d671ab)

  4. Reuters reports Larijani is no longer the negotiator but will nevertheless go to Rome’s atomic talks as Iran’s representative.

    DRJ (67ced6)

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