Iranian media and officials have made contradictory comments on the outcome of indirect talks with Washington this week over the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Several Iranian media outlets on Thursday [June 30] quoted an unnamed senior US official as having said that the chances for an agreement have weakened following the talks in Doha," and that "The United States had accepted the changes suggested by European member states, but Iran refused to accept them."
On Friday, Ahmad Alamolhoda, the influential Friday prayer imam in Mashad said he had warned before the meeting "the idea of holding negotiations in Qatar was a trap laid for Iran by the United States." Alamolhoda used exactly the wording chosen to describe the event by the hardliner daily Kayhan, which is close to the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Calling Qatar "a Persian Gulf state dependent on the United States," the firebrand cleric said, "They changed the venue of the negotiations from Vienna to Doha to make us step back from our positions."
"Iran's heroic negotiating team which is headed by a devoted young man who even says his non-compulsory nocturnal prayers every night powerfully resisted against the United States deceit and did not put a step back," Alamolhoda boasted. He also praised Imam Sadeq University for educating "pious individuals such as chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri."
In another development, Iran's former ambassador to Germany Hossein Mousavian, who is currently a member of Princeton University faculoty, wrote in a tweet on 29 June in both English and Persian that "US-Iran-EU nuclear talks in Doha was neither a failure nor a breakthrough. In this round, US and Iranian negotiators got acquainted with the limits of minimum and maximum manoeuvring power of the other side for possible agreement in the next round."
Meanwhile, Mehr News Agency quoted the spokesman for parliament’s National Security and Foreign Relations Committee Abolfazl Amuee as saying that he is no longer optimistic toward the United States returning to the negotiations. "Our initial assessment of the United States' interest in returning to the negotiating table was that they would lift the sanctions. We hope this is true, but we cannot be optimistic about this with any degree of certainty."
Some Iranian news outlets, including the IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency and Noor News, a website close to the Supreme Council of national Security reported that the talks in Doha failed. Some other Iranian news outlets assessed these reports as premature and part of the early biased reporting on the development.
This comes while, according to the reformist website Etemad Online, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told his Qatari counterpart that his assessment of the talks was positive. The new spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Nasser Kanani cautiously reported the end of the talks in Doha without any judgement.
Etemad Online opined: "The end of the talks in Doha closed the door to even the smallest hope among the Iranian public. In the near future, the news about the negotiations will no longer have any impact on trends in Iran’s markets." The reformist website suggested that "Under the circumstances the only expectation from the Raisi administration is to bravely and officially announce the death of the 2015 nuclear agreement, as it has already been in a comma for a long time."