Jun 1, 2006

Iran Invites Dialogue, Rejects Preconditions

Left: Iranian nuclear technicians; photo courtesy of AFP and BBC

(Tehran) Iran rejected new US preconditions for talks over its controversial uranium enrichment program. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the country was ready for negotiations but unwilling to suspend sensitive nuclear work.

"Iran welcomes dialogue under just conditions but won't give up our rights," he said in remarks quoted by Iranian state television. "We won't negotiate about the Iranian nation's natural nuclear rights, but we are prepared, within a defined, just framework and without any discrimination, to hold dialogue about common concerns."

Mottaki's comments were the country's first official reaction to an announcement by the US yesterday that it would join other countries for face-to-face talks with Iranian leaders, provided Iran stops enriching uranium.

President Bush said today that the nuclear standoff will proceed to the UN Security Council if Tehran continues its nuclear program.

"We'll see whether or not that is the firm position of their government," he said. "If they continue their abstinence, if they continue to say to the world `We really don't care what your opinion is,' then the world is going to act in concert."

Iran announced in April that it had enriched uranium for the first time. Enrichment can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead, although tens of thousands of centrifuges are needed to accomplish either goal.

Iran is believed to possess approximately 164 centrifuges at this time.

Officials in Iran also announced that some of the nation's researchers have also been working on a nuclear fusion program.


M A F said...

The "preconditions" were intended to illicit a negative response from Iran. What exactly does Bush mean when he says "robust diplomacy?" Isn't that what we got with Iraq, robust diplomacy?

The Bush administration is pushing for an outcome that doesn't appear to be forthcoming from the UN Security Council. I believe that the letter the Ahmadinejad sent to Bush was a smart political move.

I heard today a sycophant for Bush justifying any actions that the US takes against Iran because of the taking of hostages during the Islamic revolution and for its violations of international law.

Dariush said...

"We'll see whether or not that is the firm position of their government," he said. "If they continue their abstinence, if they continue to say to the world 'We really don't care what your opinion is,' then the world is going to act in concert."

I love this business about "the world" wants this, "the world" wants that and "they're saying to 'the world'...".

What hubris!

As if Russia, China and the non-aligned countries exist on some other planet. As if the people of Germany, France, Britain and the U.S. don't have minds of their own, and are somehow incapable of any thought that isn't voiced for them by some government official.

historymike said...

Sure, just get Coulter or Malkin to make the outrageous statements, while the "official" line is one of "robust diplomacy."

Looking ahead at this game of diplomatic chicken, I think the Iranians are banking on the US backing down after the Security Council tells them to stick it, because Iran has a hell of a lot more international support than Sadaam ever did.

Russia and China appear to be staking at least a neutral position, while Iran has been busy courting international support among groups like the D-8 (Iran, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey).

Heck, even Iraqi ministers are agreeing that Iran, as an NPT signee, has the right to produce enriched uranium for peaceful uses.

I cannot see any benefit to the US with its continued hard line by Bush and Rice. We risk a loss of face if we cannot convince the Security Council to impose sanctions, and we risk another, bloodier war if Bush decides to play Johnny Unilateral again.

historymike said...

Agreed, Dariush. Beyond Bush, Rice, and Blair, I am not hearing many people making an issue of the 164 Iranian centrifuges.

Oh, plus Hannity, Savage, et al.

Lisa Renee said...

We really don't care what your opinion is

How dare Iran do that, sheesh we are the only ones who can do that kind of stuff as long as we can claim a few "coalition of the willings" to make it look good.


Kate said...

They're just dancing at this point. Like a tennis game. I wish they'd name a neutral country and talk.

On a historical note - I saw a (?) National Geographic show in the last week about the Germans and heavy water. They were awfully close to having a bomb toward the end of the war. What blew me away was the Norweigans (!) sabotaged their heavy water shipment.


Dariush said...

Meanwhile, Ray McGovern, ex-CIA guy with the cojones to confront Rusmfeld about his lies face-to-face, is predicting the worst.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Iranians do develop nuclear weapons.

At this point, it's the only thing that's gonna make American liberals happy.

M A F said...

BOLTON: That no option is taken off the table. And Secretary…

CAVUTO: Military as well?

BOLTON: Exactly. Secretary Rice…

Kate said...

Ok - I'm going to ask a question and then run away..

But it just stuck me - whenever I'm scared of something, or my kids - we play 'what if'. You know what if the thing that you're afraid of happened.

So - what IF Iran has nuclear arms? What is the worst that could happen?

I'm just asking....

historymike said...

It's a good question, Kate.

I do not hear war mongers whining about the nuclear weapons that Pakistan has, and that country is much less stable than Iraq.

They certainly do not seem to mind the 100-200 nukes the Israelis possess.

Neither nation, by the way, is a signatory to the NPT.

Oh - I forgot - Pakistan and Israel are our "friends."

Dariush said...

Kate: "So - what IF Iran has nuclear arms? What is the worst that could happen?"

The "worst" thing that could happen is that Iran would hold an ace card that would prevent it from being attacked due to its "evilness", as Matt Barganier does a beautiful job of explaining.


...commenting on the Iranian missile test is The Strata-Sphere (cute, huh?):

"I seriously doubt Iran is so crazy they would launch missiles at US or Israeli targets (though I would not bet $1 on that premise), but the missiles do represent a very tough defense against military action by the West, whether it is pre-emptive or reactive. This is the problem with a nuclear armed Iran. If one of their bombs makes it to a target on the back of a suicide bomber, then attempting to deliver a response becomes a more complex problem."

And there you have it: Iran is bad, and bad countries are not entitled to self-defense. It's not about Iran actually posing a threat to the U.S. or even Israel – unless, as he ludicrously suggests, they're going to take us down one backpack bomber at a time, while we fume and curse those darn medium-range missiles that prevent any counterattack.

Whatever the moral merits of the "bad people have no right to self-defense" argument may be, it's a geopolitical fantasy. No government in the world is going to say, "Yes, you're right, we do suck. Feel free to bomb us without fear of retaliation." To think that they would, or that a constant stream of threats will enhance our own security, is to see the world through the eyes of a spoiled child.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Ahmadinejad understands that without nuclear weapons Iran is but a minor annoyance.

With them, he has everyone's attention.

I don't know what he wants, but I'm pretty sure that he will be telling us sometime soon.

As you can see, Ahmadinejad is no dummy.

Kate said...

Well, there are nuclear arms in the world. Maybe he'll be a good steward of this technology. He could just be making the statements he has been making because he's new to the office and wants to make a name for himself?

I mean no one would have elected him if he actually did want to destroy another nation. Would they?

Because while they may believe in martyrdom - they wouldn't actually do it?