[Marxism] Obama agrees to reopen talks with Iran in September

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jul 29 11:13:50 MDT 2010

United States, Iran to Restart Talks
Robert Dreyfuss | July 29, 2010

Talks on Iran's nuclear program will resume in September, and despite the
war bluster from neocons and the far right, the Obama administration seems
prepared to try once again.

>From discussions with US officials, here's what I've gleaned about the
administration's policy on Iran. First, there is no appetite whatsoever, and
no serious consideration, being given to a military attack on Iran. Not even
Dennis Ross [1], the hawkish aide at the National Security Council, brings
up the possibility of a military strike, US officials tell me. Second, they
say, sanctions against Iran may or may not impact Iran's decision-making
over its nuclear program, and it's unlikely that sanctions can work
effectively, but in any case sanctions are designed for their long-term
impact, over years and not weeks or months, so the latest round of sanctions
isn't designed to have immediate impact on how Iran approaches talks later
this summer. Which means that hawks who call for setting a tight deadline
for the sanctions to work are simply trying to use the sanctions as a
stepping-stone to war. Obama isn't listening.

Finally, US officials say, Obama has consistently supported engagement with
Iran since the campaign of 2008. He didn't abandon the policy of engagement
and diplomacy under withering attacks from Hillary Clinton in 2008, and he
didn't abandon under the firestorm of criticism by the likes of the American
Enterprise Institute and The Weekly Standard in 2009. Problem is, Iran
didn't or couldn't respond positively to Obama's offer to engage, beyond the
October, 2009, breakthrough in which Iran agreed to ship most of its
enriched uranium to France and Russia for reprocessing. That accord broke
down when Iran's fractured political system proved incapable of implementing

Now the talks are back on track, it appears.

The State Department announced yesterday [2]that it is prepared to re-engage
and restart the aborted talks over the deal reached last October concerning
the enriched uranium for Tehran's research reactor. This is a big deal. Said
P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman:

"We obviously are fully prepared to follow up with Iran on specifics
regarding our initial proposal involving the Tehran research reactor.as well
as, you know, the broader issues of trying to fully understand the nature of
Iran's nuclear program. We hope to have the same kind of meeting coming up
in the coming weeks that we had last October."

According to US officials, the new talks are likely to begin at the
technical level. But they could quickly escalate to more senior officials.

Catherine Ashton, the chief negotiator for the European Union, also said
that the EU-which is represented by the UK, France and Germany in the
so-called P5 + 1-is ready to start talking again, and she raised the
possibility [3]that the talks could expand to broader issues:

    "I've made it clear.that we would like those talks to resume quickly and
that we would be very clear that the issue on the table is Iran's nuclear
weapons capability and approach. That is the issue. All other issues can be
discussed later."

Significantly, Iran has reportedly told Turkey that it is prepared to halt
further enrichment of uranium from 3-5 percent to 20 percent (the level
needed for the Tehran medical research reactor) in hope of restarting the
accord reached last October in Geneva. If so, that's a big deal, too, since
Turkey and Brazil have been actively engaged in trying to broker a deal with
Iran. The hard work by those two countries was disparaged by many in the
United States, but it seems to have paid off. Reports AFP [4]:

    Iran pledged to halt enriching uranium if world powers agree to a
nuclear fuel swap deal it signed with Turkey and Brazil, a newspaper on
Thursday quoted Turkey's foreign minister as saying.

    The assurance came after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
held talks with his Turkish and Brazilian counterparts Ahmet Davutoglu and
Celso Amorim on Sunday in Istanbul, Milliyet newspaper reported on its

The Iranians have also agreed to start talking again in September. Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, who supported the October deal but
failed to get backing either from Ayatollah Khamenei or from the reformist
opposition for it, says that Iran will re-enter talks, as CNN reports [5]:

    Iran is ready for "effective cooperation" to resolve the dispute over
its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview with
state media.

    "We said that we will talk with P5+1 as of early September, but there
are some conditions," Ahmadinejad told Press TV on Monday. "One of the
conditions is that others should be present in the discussions as well."

What does this all mean? It means that despite the huffing and puffing from
some quarters, diplomacy is back on track. In both Iran and the United
States, there are powerful voices being raised against the idea of
accommodating the other side, so talks won't be easy. As I've written
consistently since 2009 [6], the talks may go on for many months, if not
years. But the administration, so far, seems prepared to see it through.
URL: http://www.thenation.com/blog/38015/united-states-iran-restart-talks
[1] http://www.thenation.com/article/dennis-rosss-iran-plan
[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66R4V620100728
[3] http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66R2YF20100728
[6] http://www.thenation.com/article/talking-tehran

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