18 Nov 2014

"You have a nice face" Exclusive Leaked Transcript of the Iran Nuclear Talks

In an exclusive scoop that no other media outlet has been able to achieve, our website has obtained a leaked transcript of the Iran nuclear talks involving U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a negotiation session held this week in Vienna. The main sticking point in the negotiations has been the US desire to limit Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, and the two met in a side session to try to resolve the issue of the number of Iran’s mainstay centrifuges the US is willing accept.

Iran intended to build 8000 units whereas the US initially said it won’t allow it more than 1500. The leaked transcript gives a fascinating insight into those proceedings that are usually conducted behind closed doors, attended only by the two main protagonists and their translators and one adviser each. Crucially, Kerry broke with protocol and brought on seasoned Lebanese negotiator Um Kareem Kharbatali, famed for her legendary negotiating skills in addition to having valuable insight into Iranian culture. Analysts suggested that she was crucial to the negotiations, advising Kerry on the best line of negotiation to take, in the process taking Zarif by surprise.

Below is the full transcript.

(After a round of pleasantries and introductions at the beginning, Kerry opens up the proceedings.)

Kerry: “We have revised our position now, and we are willing to meet you halfway, we are prepared to accept 3000 centrifuges.”

Zarif: “Clearly halfway means something different in America than it does in Iran. How did you manage to send a rocket to the moon with this kind of mathematics?”

Kerry: “We thought you had already accepted a 6000 unit limit.”

Zarif: “Excellency, your sense of humour is very good. Now let’s be serious.”

Kerry: “I am merely an apprentice compared to your mastery of humour.” (This particular line is clearly the influence of Um Ali, teaching Kerry a classic Levantine manoeuvre in her attempt to soften his blunt WASPish ways.)

Zarif: “We might be willing to accept 7500 units, but I am doing you this as a personal favour because our friendship is important to me, although I will be criticised for it back home.”

Kerry: “I am willing to return the favour and offer you 3500, no one values our friendship more than I do.”

Zarif: “Would a friend do this to me? If I didn’t know you better I would have thought you’re insulting me. Our absolute final limit is 7300 units and I will probably be fired for this concession.”

Kerry: “You’re killing me here. Work with me Mohammad. I’m prepared to go to 3647 units and not one more. This is my final offer.”

(The non-round figure is yet another Levantine tactic, implying a level of precision that cannot be compromised. Zarif is visibly surprised at this development but he recovers quickly.)

Zarif: “I see you have been studying Iranian culture. That is a worthwhile use of your time. But you still speak from the brain not from the heart. Our final final offer is 7250 units.”

Kerry: “It’s an honour to learn about such a great culture as yours. You know enough about mine to know that I cannot go over 3800 unites without jeopardising my political career. Your hardliners are nothing compared to ours.”

Zarif: “John, I value our friendship but you are not serious. I think I am going to go look somewhere else, goodbye.”

(Zarif pretends that he about to leave but Kerry seems to have been prepared for this.)

Kerry: “Fine, let’s put this aside, but I can’t allow you to leave before sampling this coffee brewed in American that I have brought for my friend. Sit down, let’s drink coffee and forget about work.”

Zarif: “This is great coffee, by American standards.”

Kerry: “We can only dream of matching your delicacies. What’s your final offer?”

Zarif: “I made an oath that I won’t go below 7200 units, do you want me to break an oath? Would your conscience accept that?”

Kerry: “God forbid, but there are sacrifices for the collective good, how about 3850 units and let’s shake hands on it now? We can all go back home early to spend more time with our families, isn’t that the whole point of life?”

Zarif: “Your tightfistedness is keeping us all away from our families, generosity is clearly more important in our culture than yours.”

Kerry: “Mohammad, you have a nice face, I will give you 3900 because you deserve it. But you’re robbing me blind here.”

(Zarif pauses at this moment to think, he’s clearly thinking of returning the nice face compliment but he’s worried that he will come across as insincere if he says Kerry has a nice face. After all, there is a limit to how much a diplomat can stretch reality.)

Zarif: “John, you have a certain type of presence. A  je ne sais quoi about you, 7100 and say goodbye to me now because I will be killed for this great concession. It was nice knowing you. Don’t disappoint me.”

Kerry: “Look, 3900 is my final word, and I will throw in this nice kilim for free.”

Zarif: (clearly surprised) “You’re offering me a kilim? You surprise me John. I appreciate your generosity but this kilim is too good for a humble man like me.”

(At this point they break for lunch, which we are told went well. Until the bill came. Kerry and Zarif fought who over pays the bill, leading to a delay in the schedule of the negotiations. They are expected to resume tomorrow morning.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.