This Simple Exchange Explains Why Iran Nuclear Talks Are So Intense

IranREUTERS/Morteza NikoubazlMembers of Iran’s Basij militia

Negotiations for a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program
resume on Wednesday, and an exchange between Iran’s Supreme Leader and a militia loyal to him reflects an inherent tension in the halls of Geneva.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who set “red lines” for his negotiators and scolded France for its position, told the soldiers that Iran wants friendly relations with all nations, “even the United States.”

“We are not hostile to the American nation. They are like other nations in the world,” Khamenei told an audience of Basij militiamen, according to Reuters.

“Death to America,” the militiamen chanted in response.

“Death to America” is the slogan of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and one of the main rallying cries for supporters of the Islamic Republic.

“Death to America is the manifestation of our nation’s determination and resistance against the dominance of oppressive and untrustworthy America,” the IRGC said on its website earlier this month.

All things considered, a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany) would be quite an accomplishment.

Keep sticking points include the fate of the plutonium-producing reactor at Arak and uranium-enrichment prctices, which are two avenues to making nuclear weapons.

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said he talked to Iranian President Rouhani on Tuesday — the first such contact in a decade — and that both leaders agreed it was “important to seize the opportunity.”

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