Iran’s Conservatives Call for Nuclear Talks Boycott After Insult

Iranian conservatives are calling for a boycott of the country’s nuclear talks with world powers unless Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, the top U.S. negotiator, is removed for making what they say was an insulting comment about Iran.

In a front-page editorial, the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for Iran to boycott the negotiations if Sherman, the State Department’s third-ranking official, is present.

On Oct.3, during a briefing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sherman, said while discussing the history of nuclear talks with Iran: “We know that deception is part of the DNA.” Sherman later told senators: “I don’t trust the people who sit across the table from me in these negotiations.”

“Such comments by U.S. officials vindicate the sense of mistrust of the Iranian nation toward the West, especially the U.S.,” said Esmail Kowsari, an Iranian member of parliament on the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Tasnim news agency reported yesterday.

Billboards with the English-language slogan “The U.S. Government Styles Honesty” have started appearing in Tehran this week. They show an Iranian negotiator meeting with his American counterpart, who’s wearing military fatigues and holding a shotgun underneath the table.

“Doubtless each side has said things that have offended the other side over the last, what, thirty years now,” Marie Harf, the State Deptartment’s deputy spokeswoman, said yesterday. “Each side has commented publicly on its inability to trust the other side.”

Iran’s conservatives have expressed concern that the new Foreign Minister Javad Zarif may be making too many concessions to resolve the nuclear issue and bring about an easing of international sanctions on the country.

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