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It’s also unclear how much Ahmadinejad is empowered to discuss the stalled talks during his coming visit to the U.N.
Iran’s nuclear negotiations are overseen directly by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has largely pushed Ahmadinejad to the political margins after he tried to challenge the near-absolute power of the ruling theocracy. Ahmadinejad cannot independently set Iranian policies, but he remains the international face of Iran and his remarks at the U.N. and other forums are interpreted as messages from the ruling clerics.
Statements earlier this week suggest he may use the U.N. stage to press Iran’s demand that lifting sanctions must be part of the nuclear negotiations.
On a live TV talk show, Ahmadinejad acknowledged that the oil and banking sanctions have presented "barriers" to Iran’s economy. "It is an all-out, hidden, heavy war" to force concessions on Tehran’s nuclear program, he said.
Nicholas Burns, a former No. 3 official at the State Department, said failure to restart the negotiations between Iran and the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany should not be considered the last option for Washington. Burns, now a professor of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said that could lead to "a final attempt" at direct talks with Tehran.
"It is in our interest to seek direct U.S.-Iran talks," he said, "to determine whether or not there is a diplomatic solution short of war."
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