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July 16, 2006
Iran Blinks

Apparently yesterday's vote in the UN Security Council made an impression on Iran. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government has agreed to negotiate with the West on the basis of the incentive package proposed earlier and for which Condoleezza Rice wanted an answer last Wednesday:

Iran said Sunday that Western incentives to halt its nuclear program were an "acceptable basis" for talks, and it is ready for detailed negotiations.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded that Iran should talk directly to negotiators if it wants to discuss the six-nation proposal.

Frustrated world powers agreed Wednesday to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible punishment, saying Tehran had given no sign it would bargain in earnest over its nuclear ambitions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that, "We consider this package an appropriate basis, an acceptable basis (for talks). ... We can achieve acceptable results in this path[.]"

Iran initially said it would not accept the offer, with its mullahs stating categorically that Iran had no need to negotiate for their nuclear cycle. Earlier threats of UNSC action went unheeded, probably because of the support Teheran received from Russia and China. Ahmadinejad then stated he would need until the end of August to review the proposal, and both Germany's Angela Merkel and Rice shot back that the package did not require that much thought and demanded a response by the middle of last week.

No one really expected Iran to endorse this package, based on that history, so this comes as a bit of a surprise, especially considering the activity in Gaza and Lebanon. However, it looks like Iran may have finally understood that the political conditions have changed. The UNSC just slapped sanctions on North Korea, who had until now provided technical assistance for Iran's missile program; that appears to be over for the short term. Europe and the UNSC have not demanded an end to Israel's response to the two provocations by Hamas and Hezbollah, and the other Arab nations have not risen to challenge Israel. In fact, they have blamed Hezbollah and by implication Iran for the attacks, especially Saudi Arabia.

Teheran isolated itself over the past few months, and they may have just discovered how few friends they have left.

That does not necessarily mean that Iran has given up on its nuclear quest. It does mean that they cannot hope to push through their program without incurring a lot of political damage, especially with Syria coming under so much pressure to cut off Hezbollah and Hamas. With the war proceeding, the ability of Iran to resupply its one partner in the region has all but disappeared, and along with it Iran's control over the two terrorist organization's operations against Israel. Iran has made a lot of disparaging comments about Israel and their folly in responding to these provocations, but the truth is that Israel could wipe out the Islamists in the immediate region if this conflict gets any wider -- and then Iran will really stand alone against the West, with no proxies left with which to attack.

It's time for them to negotiate and get the best deal they can. It looks like they may have stopped believing their own press releases and recognized it.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 16, 2006 1:39 PM

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» Iran Suddenly Willing To Negotiate from Liberty and Justice
As long as she doesn't prove the opposite to me, I'm still assuming her ultimate goal is to develop nuclear weapons and that she will use this merely as a means to buy herself important time. As a means to give the world the impression that she's 'some... [Read More]

Tracked on July 16, 2006 3:04 PM

» Has Iran Blinked? from Hyscience
The only blinking going on is our own double take at yet another incredible stall by Iran, and the UN's soon-to-be falling for yet another Iranian hat trick. [Read More]

Tracked on July 16, 2006 3:16 PM

» Iran Nuclear Watch: Iran Calls P-5-Plus-1 Incentives “Acceptable Basis” for Talks from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Russian and Iranian technicians work inside the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, in southern Iran, February 2006. Iran has said that it was still counting on support from Russia and China over its disputed nuclear programme, and wa... [Read More]

Tracked on July 16, 2006 3:17 PM

» Iran Dissembles from Blue Crab Boulevard
Iran has announced it is willing to talk about the package of incentives and penalties the West offered. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that, "We consider this package an appropriate basis, an accept... [Read More]

Tracked on July 16, 2006 8:18 PM


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