Why did Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei just say that he’s “not optimistic” about the negotiations?

“I have said before … I am not optimistic about the negotiations. It will not lead anywhere, but I am not opposed either,” Khamenei told a large crowd during a visit to the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, according to IRNA.

“What our foreign ministry and officials have started will continue and Iran will not violate its (pledge) … but I say again that this is of no use and will not lead anywhere.”

This is one of a series of comments by Khamenei expressing his mistrust of the P5+1 and Iran’s nuclear negotiations with the West.

What’s going on?

The administration and its cheerleaders are convinced that if given enough time they could reach a deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If not in the six months stipulated in the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in Geneva in November, then maybe in the subsequent six month period, as JPA states, the terms are “renewable by mutual consent.”

Things are going swimmingly, of course. Iran has said that it would divulge the results of its research into nuclear detonators. We’ll see if that happens. (But doesn’t the existence of research militate against the Iranian claims that its nuclear research is for peaceful purposes only?)

In January, Iranian oil sales spiked to 1.32 billion barrels. Overall, as Ambassador Mark Wallace of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) stated in recent Congressional testimony:

“The White House estimates that Iran stands to receive $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief. The true value of the sanctions relief is well more $20 billion. Just calculate the increase in oil sales lest there be any doubt. Now, we believe there will be far less pressure for Iran to actually make material concessions on its nuclear program.”

So the negotiations have been good for Iran’s economy.

What about the other side? President Obama assured us that the JPA “halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.” And in fact the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) estimated that the JPA, if implemented strictly, would add a few weeks to Iran’s estimated nuclear breakout time.

But  non-proliferation experts have recently pointed out that there are a couple of loopholes in the JPA that will allow Iran to make up for any lost time due to the JPA.

David Albright of ISIS noted recently in Senate testimony the JPA allows Iran to continue its advanced centrifuge research. This could mean that Iran could develop next generation centrifuges that would reduce its enrichment footprint. With the advanced centrifuges, Iran would require fewer centrifuges that could possibly be put into operation undetected.

While 3.5% enriched uranium is further from weapons grade uranium than 20% enriched uranium, according to Greg Jones and Henry Sokolski, there are fewer risks in processing the lower enriched uranium to weapons grade.

So if Iran is seeing financial benefits from the negotiations with the West and continues inching towards a bomb,

Khamenei is posturing. After the six months are over don’t be surprised if Iran cites some Western affront or violation and pulls out of the talks. Iran’s gotten the financial relief it sought. Iran has pulled similar stunts before. Iran will have benefited from the lifting of sanctions that will not easily be reinstated and will have inched every closer to nuclear breakout.

Iran has no interest in a comprehensive agreement because it has no intent of stopping its nuclear program. Khamenei’s postureing to allow Iran to declare diplomacy a failure and blame the West.

[Photo:  Dragonfire1024 / WikiCommons ]