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U.S. Must Drop Arrogance, Iranian Lawmaker Says


Friday prayers are not the only place to look for clues, and we're going to sift through some more with NPR's Mike Shuster. Mike, welcome to the program again.



INSKEEP: We dropped by Iran's Parliament building this week - this spectacular structure that's shaped like a lopsided pyramid - and spoke with a man named Kazem Jalali. Who is he?

SHUSTER: He's the chairman in the Iranian parliament of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee. In effect, it's the Senate Foreign Relations Committee even more so. He deals with a lot of very important international issues.

INSKEEP: Okay. So, an influential voice. And he talked about what Iran could offer in talks with the United States. And let's listen. He started, as many Iranians do, by saying the U.S. has to change its arrogant attitude.

Mr. KAZEM JALALI (Chairman, National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee, Iranian Parliament): (Through translator) For example, if this attitude is changed from the Americans, the Iranian nuclear issue will very easily be solved. If this attitude is changed by the Americans - for example, in the case of terrorism - we will be a very good helpful partner helping the Americans.

INSKEEP: Okay. Key lawmaker talking through a translator. What do you hear there, Mike Shuster?


SHUSTER: Well, there are two important issues. One, terrorism, the other, the nuclear issue. And it's all about attitude for the Iranians, what they believe the arrogant attitude of that United States that doesn't treat them as an equal.

If you drill down a little bit further on the nuclear issue, it's the preconditions that the United States has set for talks, and it's the demand ahead of time to do certain things like stop the enrichment of uranium that the Iranians don't want to do. They don't want to follow the word of the United States. They want to be treated as an equal.

INSKEEP: Well, is he essentially saying, though, if you drop some of these preconditions, if you sit down and talk with us, you can actually make progress? You can get what you want in the nuclear program or on terrorism, United States?

SHUSTER: He seems to be saying that. Other Iranian officials have said similar things. During the Bush administration, the United States did not take up such an offer on the part of the Iranians, and in fact dismissed it as posturing. Now we'll have to see whether a new American president approaches Iran differently on these issues.

INSKEEP: Let's check another statement by Kazem Jalali, this key Iranian lawmaker. I asked him if Iran has enough uranium for its nuclear program. He didn't talk about making bombs. Iran says it is a civilian program. But he did say Iran needs more for nuclear reactors. Then he talked about exploring for more, buying it overseas. What's the significance?

SHUSTER: This is very interesting. This is a relatively new issue in the ongoing controversy over Iran's nuclear capacity. There's talk internationally that Iran has used up most of its stock of uranium ore. And that in order to continue to enriching uranium and planning for whatever plans they have -either for a civilian nuclear power industry or bombs - they may not have enough to go further and really develop this, and may be looking for sources elsewhere in the world. And this is a pressure point where the United States and the Europeans and others who want to limit Iran's capacity could put the pressure.

INSKEEP: One other thing, Mike Shuster: Iran launched a satellite this week, or says it did. What message does that send?

SHUSTER: Well, that sends a message that in missile technology, they're advancing. This was not a long-range rocket, but a rocket strong enough and controllable enough to apparently put a satellite into orbit. Some of the same technology could be used to deploy a nuclear weapon in a much longer-range missile. But there are some similarities, and that's got the United States and other governments in Europe and elsewhere concerned about their growing technological capacity.

INSKEEP: NPR's Mike Shuster is here with us in Tehran. Mike, thanks.

SHUSTER: You're welcome.

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INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.