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August 16, 2006
Iran Agrees To Discuss Nuclear Halt

If Hezbollah supposed victory served to embolden its sponsors, then perhaps Iran has not received the memo. Reversing its public stance this summer, Iran has agreed to discuss ending its uranium enrichment as the deadline on the West's offer approaches:

Iran is ready to discuss the suspension of its uranium enrichment programme as demanded by Western powers, the country's foreign minister has said.

Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference that Iran was ready to talk but still regarded any suspension of its programme as "illogical".

A package of incentives has been offered to Iran by six world powers in return for a halt to its programme.

Tehran has said it will respond to the offer by 22 August.

"We are ready to discuss all the issues, including the suspension. There is no logic behind the suspension of Iran's activities. We are ready to explain this to them," Mr Mottaki said.

This isn't an agreement to stop enrichment, not even temporarily, as the UN demanded in its UN Security Council resolution. However, it does represent a shift from Iran's earlier reaction from both its president and its supreme leader. Both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khameini had insisted that Iran would never debate its sovereign right to the nuclear cycle, and that negotiations had to start on that basis. This represents a retreat from that position less than a week before Iran's self-assigned deadline for a formal response.

Much has been made of the August 22 date for the deadline. Many expect Iran to do something irrational as part of its millenial ambitions to bring back the 12th Imam, which certainly remains possible. However, it appears that the mullahcracy may not be as sanguine about the response to Hezbollah's provocations in Lebanon as their public pronouncements of victory would indicate. This retreat seems incongruous with the triumphalism exhibited in Teheran and Damascus, and may be an indication that rational thought still prevails in Iran -- for the moment.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 16, 2006 6:51 AM

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