Last-Minute Deal Possible

Last-Minute Deal PossibleLast-Minute Deal Possible

Scott Peterson, the Christian Science Monitor chief reporter for the Middle East, gave a talk on Iran's nuclear issue last Wednesday in Tehran. The talk on the sidelines of the 20th press exhibition at Tehran's Grand Musalla was attended by a large audience, including local media and press representatives.

Peterson opined that after two and a half years of negotiations, Iran and the West are still ''far apart'', the latest round of talks in Muscat notwithstanding. He said although differences exist, no one still knows for sure whether a deal will be struck or not.

He said, "This time exactly coincides with the date of the interim deal between Iran and the world powers" announced a year ago in Geneva. ''Nobody even had the slightest clue that a deal had been made, and when the negotiators walked into the room at 3:00 a.m., we were in for a big surprise,'' he said. Peterson did not rule out the possibility of another unexpected deal being announced at the last moment.   

He said although there are signs pointing to an agreement for journalists, ''even the negotiators themselves'' do not know yet what the outcome of the talks will be.

  Lessons Learned

He also pointed to some lessons that both sides, especially Iran and the United States, learned during their direct talks with each other.

First and foremost, he said, it became clear the differences that kept the two sides from reaching a deal had to do more about ''perceptions and misperceptions'' that existed rather than ''technical differences."

The promising sign, he said, was the ''large political investment'' from both sides for a solution to the stalemate, adding that the Obama team had to convince "the Congress and Israel that the deal was worthwhile, although they knew the difficulty of a deal."

On the Iranian side, he pointed to the Leader's support for the negotiating team and his calling Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a ''son of the revolution''.  

He said there is ''no question'' that both sides want an agreement, and this is made known by the ''sustained contacts'' between them. ''These contacts have led the two sides to understand the thinking of each other."

He mentioned the fact that certain ''regional countries'' and "Israel'' are concerned about a close relationship between Iran and the US, and thus are opposed to an agreement.

Scott Peterson covers the Middle East for the Christian Science Monitor from Istanbul, Turkey, with a special focus on Iran, Iraq and Syria. He was in Iran to participate in the 20th international media exhibition in Tehran, which came to a close on Friday. He said this was his 37th visit to Iran and thanked organizers of the event for a vibrant media exposition on such a massive scale.