"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 negotiator: 'great opportunity'
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.
US skepticism remains
"If you hear skepticism from me, and wariness, we haven't talked to the Iranians for 15 months," said the senior US administration official.