February 12, 2007

Iran: Can We Talk?

In a sign that the international sanctions have begun to bite, Iran has softened its tone and reached out to European diplomats for a new round of talks. They're not offering anything but that softer tone as a carrot, however:

Facing the prospect of broader international sanctions, Iran's president and national security chief on Sunday offered to resume negotiations over their country's nuclear program and eased up on some of the contentious rhetoric of the past, including threats to destroy Israel.

In Munich, Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, briefly met with European diplomats for the first time since talks collapsed in September and said Iran was willing to return to formal discussions.

He also said his country had "no intention of aggression against any country," adding that Iran "posed no threat to Israel" in particular, despite past vows from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel "off the map."

Meanwhile in Tehran, Ahmadinejad also said that Iran was willing to resume negotiations, although both he and Larijani rejected a condition for talks set by the U.N. Security Council that Iran first freeze its uranium enrichment program. "We are prepared for dialogue but won't suspend our activities," Ahmadinejad said.

The fact that Iran wants to restart talks shows that the sanctions have begun to work. Iranians have started wondering why Ahmadinejad needed to act so clumsily in pushing for nuclear "power". The mullahs appear somewhat nonplussed by the UN scolding, fueled in part by the anti-Israel rhetoric used by their handpicked president. Now Larijani has been sent out to defuse the situation, but a little late for protestations that Iran has no animus towards Israel.

Iran still wants to manipulate the West, however, as Ahmadinejad's declaration demonstrates. If they do not want to consider an end to their efforts to enrich uranium, then the UN has nothing to discuss with Teheran. They have already laid out the conditions for lifting the sanctions and offered a generous package as an incentive to do so, which includes the delivery of safe nuclear power to Iran. The Iranians know what it will take to restart negotiations, but refuse to take the necessary steps.

We need to keep the pressure on while leaving the door open. When Iran wants to engage seriously with the UN, we should make it clear that we're ready to listen -- but not at the expense of our allies in the region, and not by acceding to their demands to become a nuclear military power. When they comply with the UN Security Council resolutions, we can have the conversation they're urgently requesting now.


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Comments (1)

Posted by unclesmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] | February 12, 2007 5:45 PM


Of course, the terrorists use this exact reasoning -- that to kill any American is to send a message to our government. And that any American serves as a representation of our government.

Don't like American oil companies in Saudi Arabia? Send a message via the nearest beheaded American. Of course, their feelings in this regard are echoed by their compatriot leftists with their chants of "No Blood for Oil!" [Of course, the leftists don't really track where that oil goes and what it gives even the neediest of our citizens...]

That said, we did, for the most part, differentiate between civilian and military targets. The firebombings of Tokyo and Dresden, and the nuking of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, were aberrations in an otherwise excellent record of doing so -- probably in response to our enemies' actions, but inexcusable nonetheless. We are differentiating in Iraq; the aberrations are there, but not at the highest level as they were at the end of WWII, when FDR lost his morality and America lost quite a bit of its nobility.

It is hard to keep to the moral high road, but we must.