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June 1, 2006
A Brief Moment Of Unity On Iran

As I suspected, Condoleezza Rice's offer of direct American participation came as she solidified an agreement with Russia and China on a carrots-and-sticks proposal for Iran which will carry sanctions for a refusal to comply. The acquiescence of the two nations presents a brief, perhaps transitory moment of unity that might give Teheran reason to reconsider its intransigence:

The United States, Russia, China and the leading nations of Europe announced agreement tonight on a general formula designed to resolve the nuclear crisis with Iran, but officials declined to specifically describe the package of incentives and punishments before it can be presented to Iran.

"I am pleased to say that we have agreed a set of far-reaching proposals as a basis for discussion with Iran," said Margaret Beckett, the British foreign secretary. "We believe that they offer Iran the chance to reach a negotiated agreement based on cooperation."

She said the nations represented at the talks "are prepared to resume negotiations should Iran resume suspension of all enrichment related and reprocessing activities as required by the I.A.E.A., and we would also suspend action in the Security Council."

But she warned that "further steps would have to be taken in the Security Council" if Iran does not comply. Ms. Beckett's statement avoided any mention of sanctions or other specific measures.

Iran has already said that they will refuse to participate in talks with the precondition of ceasing their uranium enrichment. However, they can change their mind, and the US has reiterated that they would honor their offer if Iran reverses itself. This would probably benefit Iran more than the West by pretending to demonstrate some reasonableness and flexibility. Unfortunately, the mullahcracy has painted itself into a corner domestically by pumping up public fervor for their sovereign right to the nuclear cycle. Backing down from that position might create a great deal of tension at a time when unrest has already reached a serious level.

An Iranian refusal will push Russia and China to either abandon their Iranian ally or to explicitly discredit the UN Security Council once again. Nuclear non-proliferation has been the responsibility of the UNSC for decades, and this test will either rejuvenate its power to effect positive change, or provide another reason for the US to discount it as any kind of helpful forum.

The Iranians surely know this. Expect them to try to split this new alliance with more declarations of sovereignty, mixed with offers to talk on the basis of status quo. Right now, it appears that the Russians and the Chinese will not fall for it ... but things will likely change soon.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 1, 2006 9:41 PM

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» “This is put-up-or-shut-up time for Iran.” from Ninth State
Sarcasm aside, the fact that Russia and China are on board with these meetings, and that the U.S. didn’t fall for the international and leftist calls for bilateral agreements with Iran is a positive sign. Iran wants no preconditions, but the U.... [Read More]

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