(TEHRAN, Iran) — If and when nuclear talks begin again between six world powers and Iran, the delegation from Tehran will be led by a new negotiator, which could prove to be the breakthrough the U.S. and its allies have waited for.
A spokesman for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was being strongly considered for the post, replacing negotiator Saeed Jalili.
Zarif, a one-time ambassador to the United Nations, was educated in the West and has been known to hold more moderate views in dealing with the U.S.
That’s in contrast with Jalili, who was hand-picked by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and espoused the view of clerics that Washington and the rest of the West cannot be trusted.
Jalili’s previous talks on his country’s disputed nuclear program with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany have gone nowhere.
As a result, the West has clamped down even harder on Iran with tough economic and political sanctions that puts its economy on the brink of collapse.
Rouhani’s decision to go with Zarif may signal some willingness to bend even as the new president maintains that Iran has no intention of giving up its uranium enrichment program, the key to developing nuclear weapons.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Barbara Starr, Jim Sciutto, Jim Acosta, Stephen Collinson and Tom LoBianco, CNN Newswire
Joshua Berlinger and Holly Yan, CNN Newswire