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June 7, 2006
Germany: Iran Must End Enrichment For Negotiations

The Bush administration got significant international support for his latest diplomatic effort with Iran from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Showing a united front, Merkel told the Iranians that the new package of incentives could be negotiated, but not an end to their enrichment program:

The terms of an offer of incentives delivered to Iran to end a dispute over its nuclear program can be negotiated but only if Tehran halts enrichment work first, Germany's chancellor said on Wednesday.

"This is an offer to kick off negotiations but there must first be a suspension of (enrichment) activities implemented by Iran," Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters before a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. ...

Merkel urged the Iranians to consider the offer seriously, which she said was an opportunity to secure a peaceful resolution to the years-long nuclear standoff with Iran.

"I believe that it is a truly significant chance to resolve this conflict diplomatically. And everyone should be aware of his responsibility in this context," she said.

Yesterday, the German Foreign Minister said he expected a resolution to this offer by the end of the month, when the G-8 meets in Moscow. He warned the Iranians not to try to drag out negotiations on preconditions, but to suspend their enrichment program and begin talks quickly. Frank-Walter Steinmeier also warned Western observers not to get their hopes up for an agreement by the Iranians, a cool dash of water on what might have developed into a bit of irrational exuberance, as Alan Greenspan might have put it.

The foreign support is significant. Bush played against type in offering this package, and the European nations will want to encourage this kind of engagement from the Bush administration. Most of them realize that this will not be repeated it if fails to achieve an end to Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons. They understand this as an offer the Iranians can't refuse, one last opportunity for reasonable compromise which would give Iran almost everything they want except the bomb.

If it works, the Europeans will have to acknowledge Bush's role in delivering a peaceful solution to a rapidly escalating situation. In doing that, they will also have to acknowledge that Bush established the credibility of American action as a basis for this offer in our insistence on holding Saddam accountable for his twelve years of defiance to the international community. If it doesn't work, they can no longer argue that Bush failed to exercise all of his diplomatic options with Iran. They know how generous this package is; they could not even bring themselves to offer all of these incentives in prior talks.

As I wrote yesterday, either way Bush wins with this effort. If he stops the Iranian program like he did the Libyan nuclear effort, then he gets to rightly claim credit for his diplomacy and skillful foreign policy. If Iran rejects the package, then all of his options go back onto the table. The only way Bush loses is to structure a deal without the necessary verification regimes, as Cliinton did when he allowed Jimmy Carter to impose the Agreed Framework with North Korea, a mistake that the Bush administration is not likely to repeat.

As Merkel emphasized today, the ball is back in Teheran's court. And that is a victory in itself.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 7, 2006 6:59 AM

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I’m so glad that Angela Merkel won the elections in Germany, and that that country now has adults running it instead of anti-American, vote-grubbing knuckleheads. Why the accolades? ... [Read More]

Tracked on June 7, 2006 8:35 AM


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