"The important point is that we believe the American people are paying a severe cost for [believing] false and imaginary threats" about the dangers of Iran, said Jalili. War fears have helped boost oil prices, and therefore the price at the pump.
Iran's stated opposition to weapons of mass destruction – including nuclear weapons – is a "great opportunity," Jalili said. The Iranian negotiating team detected significant change at the negotiating table.
"They should not speak to Iranians with the language of threats and a strategy of pressure," Jalili told the Monitor. "We consider it a step forward, and a positive one, when after 15 months they themselves change their attitudes and approach, and say we want to have talks for cooperation."
On the European and American side, there was a belief that it was Iran that had dramatically adjusted its approach. In some previous talks, Iran refused to discuss its nuclear program at all; in January last year, two preconditions imposed by the Iranian side – that the P5+1 accept Iranian enrichment at the outset, and the lifting of UN sanctions – scuttled the talks before an agenda could even be set.
In the new attempts to resolve Iran's nuclear issue, Ashton said, Iran and the P5+1 agreed to be "guided by [a] step-by-step approach and reciprocity."
For Iran that would mean a swift lifting of sanctions with every step that it took. But yesterday US and European diplomats indicated that sanctions processes – including an oil sales embargo, due to fully come into effect on July 1 – will continue.
"If you hear skepticism from me, and wariness, we haven't talked to the Iranians for 15 months," said the senior US administration official.