The past week saw a flurry of news reports about statements from Ayatollah Khamenei on Iran’s nuclear negotiations. Today there was a more conciliatory report.

This is part of the superficial news reporting I warned about earlier. Every word, every nuance, counts, and most reporters seize only the most sensational interpretations. 

So earlier in the week, Reuters headlined “Iran’s Khamenei rules out interviews with nuclear scientists.”

The quotes (and we must remember they are someone’s translations from the Persian) are

“We will never yield to pressure … We will not accept unreasonable demands … Iran will not give access to its (nuclear) scientists,” Khamenei said.

“We will not allow the privacy of our nuclear scientists or any other important issue to be violated.”

“They say we should let them interview our nuclear scientists. This means interrogation,” Khamenei said.

“I will not let foreigners talk to our scientists and to interrogate our dear children … who brought us this extensive (nuclear) knowledge.”

Not only are these translations, the ellipsis dots indicate that other material has been removed. Khamenei rules out pressure, unreasonable demands, violation of the scientists’ privacy, and interrogation. None of these, however, are being sought by the P5+1. Khamenei is drawing some very broad lines, possibly out of pique, possibly as a negotiating tactic.

The one statement that could cause concern, embedded in a broader statement from which at least two parts have been removed, is “Iran will not give access to its (nuclear) scientists.” But we don’t know what Reuters has removed, or whether the translation is accurate.

Because the rest of the quotes rely on loaded words, I’m inclined to doubt this.

The article also says that earlier statements by Khamenei ruled out inspection of military sites. Today’s statement allows for managed access to military sites, which means that Iran must agree to that access. Only the document to be arrived at by June 30 will be final, but this statement allows for more than Reuters’s interpretation of Khamenei’s earlier statements, which were qualified in the same ways as this week’s.

Let’s wait and see the June 30 agreement.

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