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Ahmedinejad Uses Conciliatory Tone Over Nuclear Deal


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad says Iran and the West have "entered a period of cooperation" concerning its nuclear program. The Iranian president did not reply to specifics of a pending nuclear deal during a televised address.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad says Iran and the West have "entered a period of cooperation" concerning its nuclear program. The Iranian president did not reply to specifics of a pending nuclear deal during a televised address.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad sounded conciliatory and upbeat, but avoided specifics about Tehran's controversial nuclear program in an interview late Wednesday on state TV.

He said Iran has "now entered a stage of cooperation [with the West]," and that Tehran's main concern centers on "participation in projects such as an international [nuclear] fuel bank, nuclear reactors, and plant construction."

The Iranian president claimed that due to his resolve the West is no longer demanding Iran "suspend its [nuclear] program." He often blames his predecessor, Mohammed Khatami, for agreeing in 2003 to suspend work on uranium enrichment.

Mr. Ahmedinejad also appears to be distancing himself from caustic remarks made recently by parliament speaker Ali Larijani and hardline parliamment member Alaedin Borojurdi about the terms of a pending nuclear deal with the United Nations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency and the Western powers that negotiated the draft deal for Iran to send nearly 80 percent of its stockpile of low-grade uranium to France and Russia for further enrichment are awaiting Tehran's final response.

Iran analyst Mehrdad Khonsari of the London-based Center for Arab and Iranian Studies says Iran appears to be stalling for time by avoiding specifics about the deal.

"From their standpoint, President Obama, earlier this year, said that he was giving the Iranian regime up to the end of the year, so I think they are trying to keep that kind of agenda in mind and not reveal their final position until such time that they absolutely have to," he said.

"So, the question is, in the next 40 days, will they come clean? My personal view is, at the end of that time, they will try to be evasive and unclear and not come clean, and try to buy more time," he added.

Khonsari stresses he does not believe the Iranians are serious about making meaningful concessions because they believe if they continue to resist, the international demands will be diluted.

The final decision on whether to accept the IAEA nuclear deal belongs to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He recently criticized President Obama for changing the tone, but not the substance of his policies towards Iran.

Mr. Obama's recent appointment of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran John Limbert might soften the Ayatollah's stance. Limbert was one of 51 U.S. diplomats taken hostage by Iran in 1979, and he met directly with the Ayatollah during his 444 day captivity.

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