Thursday, April 13, 2006

Well, Now: Here's An Idea

The Iran "problem" continues to hog the headlines and blog posts. Yesterday, Iran announced it can now enrich uranium. Also yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on the United Nations to take a tougher stance on the issue. An AP report in the Star Tribune runs down the US position:

Denouncing Iran's successful enrichment of uranium as unacceptable to the international community, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday the U.N. Security Council must consider "strong steps'' to induce Tehran to change course.

...While Rice took a strong line, she did not call for an emergency meeting of the Council, saying it should consider action after receiving an IAEA report by April 28. She did not elaborate on what measures the United States would support, but economic and political sanctions are under consideration.

Clearly both sides of the dispute are ratcheting up the pressure and, unfortunately, the heat. However, buried deep in the news story was a rather interesting suggestion on how the whole problem just might be defused.

At the private Arms Control Association, executive director Daryl Kimball said the administration should consider direct talks with Iran on the nuclear issue. And, he said in an interview, "the administration should be extending non-aggression pledges rather than implied threats in order to weaken Iran's rationale for a nuclear weapons program.'' [Emphasis added]

If in fact Iran is basing its desire for nuclear weaponry on fears of a US attack (and this is not so outrageous a position, given the proximity of US forces in Iraq and the famous "axis of evil" meme from an earlier State of the Union address by the Emperor in Chief), removing the threat of an attack by offering a non-aggression pledge in negotiations would deprive Iran of an excuse.

The key is that of direct negotiations, which the US has long refused. That kind of diplomacy is apparently too nuanced for this regime. Instead, the US has chosen to sit back while Russia and the EU have carried the load of negotiations. The problem is that Iran doesn't feel threatened by Russia and the EU.

If the regime were serious about wanting to resolve the issue, it would step back, assess the problem in terms other than the hostile, and would engage Iran directly. Of course, if the regime is not interested in a peaceful resolution because it has already decided on a military approach, then it's just a matter of time, like it was in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.


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