Bilateral nuclear talks between Iranian and American diplomats continued in Geneva Tuesday ahead of the resumption of P5+1 talks later this week, amid concerns that Western leverage in talks has steadily eroded following last month’s extension of nuclear negotiations. Observers have for months expressed concerns that Iran’s cheating had strengthened the Islamic Republic’s hand in talks, giving the Tehran more to trade away in talks as Western leverage erodes.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, mocked what he called the “weakness of America’s sovereignty and authority.” Velayati called Iranian power in the region “unthinkable” and boasted that “Iran has major influence from Lebanon to Yemen.” Iran has for more than a year provided funding and military training to Houthi rebels in Yemen, deepening concerns that the Islamic Republic is widening its influence in the region.
Iran has for years been blasted by Gulf countries for interference in regional issues, with Reuters this week calling Iranian support for the Houthi rebels “crucial” and assessing that “Iran is exploiting turmoil between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and now Yemen.” Following September’s Houthi takeover of the Yemeni capital, Iranian officials boasted that four capitals – Damascus, Baghdad, Beirut, and now Sana’a – were under the Islamic Republic’s control.
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