You have to hand it to President Hussein. He managed to shatter decades of American hegemony as leverage in dealing with our mortal enemies in just ...... days. It's staggering, two weeks and Iran is setting conditions for our surrender.
A senior adviser to Iran’s president says dialogue with the US will succeed only if the Obama administration accepts Tehran’s right to have a nuclear programme.
The US hopes to engage with Iran and persuade the country to halt its uranium enrichment activities, the most sensitive part of the nuclear programme, and withdraw its support for militant groups in the region.
The launch of a homemade Iranian satellite on Tuesday further raised concerns among western powers that Iran was accelerating its development of ballistic missile technology.
But Iran too has a list of demands requiring US policy shifts.
On some issues – such as the removal of US troops from Iraq and stabilising Afghanistan – Iran and the US can find common ground.
Others, particularly Iran’s claim that its nuclear programme is peaceful in nature and so advanced that it has become a fact on the ground, could prove the two sides’ differences are irreconcilable.
“If [US] policies change the two nations will get closer to each other, the two governments will get closer to each other and the chances for dialogue and co-operation will succeed,” said Mr Samareh.
“The policy of [George W.] Bush was to use this [the nuclear issue] as an excuse to stand up against the Iranian nation.
“For there to be change, this policy has to change.” In Afghanistan, he said, Iran was expecting a more robust effort to fight opium production.
Another big concern for Tehran were US attempts to negotiate with elements of the Taliban, the radical Sunni group ousted from power and seen by Tehran as a security threat.
“When the US goes into Afghanistan under the pretext of fighting illegal groups how can it enter into negotiations with them?” said Mr Samareh.
He also pointed to the Bush administration’s support for Israel during conflicts such as the offensive in Gaza against Hamas, which is supported by Iran, and the 2006 Israeli war against Hizbollah, another Iran-backed group.
In both cases the US sought to delay the passing of a UN ceasefire resolution.
“Is the new US administration going to continue these policies? If it does, then nothing will change,” he said.
While the US last week sent envoy George Mitchell to discuss Gaza with leaders in the region, including Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, which Hamas ousted from Gaza two years ago, Iran hosted Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, in Tehran this week.
Nato called last week for greater efforts to involve Iran in resolving Afghan issues.[...]
Western officials say pressure will intensify on Tehran to compromise, as financial sanctions, designed to force Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, bite harder in a climate of lower oil prices.
Although Iranian business has suffered from the restrictions imposed by the US and the UN, record oil revenues have cushioned their impact.
Mr Samareh, however, played down the impact of sanctions, saying the financial sector’s isolation had, in effect, helped shield it from the global financial crisis.
The government was hoping to counter lower oil revenues by restructuring subsidies and curbing current expenditures, he said.
Inflation, meanwhile, which had reached more than 25 per cent, was on its way down, and housing prices were coming down, all of which was, he claimed, leading to “economic enthusiasm”.