Saturday, May 27, 2006

Should There be Any Debate?

According to The New York Times, the Bush Administration is weighing the possibility of holding direct talks with Iran over its nuclear issue. Judging from the Times account, most of the support for negotiations comes from current and former State Department officials. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice is said to have broached the subject with top aides, after recent discussions with European allies. Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are said to oppose talks with Tehran.

For now, I'll cast my lot with Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld. As we observed earlier this week, Iran has offered little proof that it will negotiate in good faith, and actually work toward a solution for the nuclear issue. On-going talks with the Europeans have produced nothing to date; ditto for negotiations with Moscow on a possible deal to move Iran's uranium enrichment efforts to a Russian facility. In fact, Iran's diplomatic strategy seems more aimed at creating the illusion of serious talks, aimed at buying time for its nuclear program.

European leaders and diplomats are said to be "anxious" for the U.S. to enter talks with Iran. And for obvious reasons. Not only would American participation add more weight and legitimacy to the process, it would also reduce prospects for U.S. military action, and demands for the Europeans to support the use of force. From their perspective, the process is paramount, even if prospects for a negotiated settlement are dim, at best.

Serious talks with Tehran should be preceded by a set of conditions that are not negotiable. First, Iran agrees to end its nuclear development efforts. Secondly, all Iranian nuclear facilities are subject to no-notice inspections by the IAEA, U.S. and European teams for at least the next decade, and thirdly, critical facilities at Khondab, Esfahan and Natanz will be dismantled and detroyed, under the supervision of the international community. Such actions would prove that Iran is serious about nuclear talks. If such conditions are not met, then any prospective nuclear talks would be almost meaningless. Vice-President Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld seem to understand that. It will be interesting to see if the State Department and the diplomacy crowd can absorb that lesson as well.


tomawesome said...

what I don't see anyone addressing is why does Iran have to stop their nuclear program (your first point)? why should they not have energy independence? U.S. keeps talking weapons and Iran keeps talking peaceful uses. OK, so nobody believes 'em -- just make your second point - IAEA inspections the primary point. same thing we did in Iraq (more or less). we don't have to start another war, just make sure they are being good world citizens. so what of it? and why are direct talks necessary? what's wrong with diplomatic back channels? getting nowhere? just talk to the court of world opinion a little more and insist on resuming inspections. can someone explain the problem with that?

Papa Ray said...

The problem with dealing with Iran's government is that they are decievers and none of them are going to deal in truth, they have said so in public, that they will decieve us. They have also said in public that they will destroy Israel and see the downfall of the United States...soon.

There is no talking or "dealing with" people like that.

Papa Ray
West Texas

cynical joe said...

Iran is going to get the bomb. They're going to get it because Iraq didn't have it and was invaded. It has nothing to do with Nuclear power, it has nothing to do with wiping Israel off of any map, its purely regime self-survival. The US might as well begin talks and try to keep Iran's nuclear weapon programs as small and as expensive as possible, but Iran is eventually going to get the bomb.

crosspatch said...

Nobody is saying that they can't have a peaceful power program. That isn't the issue. But they have signed the NPA which states that the UN agency must have full and complete access to all their facilities in order to ensure that they aren't building weapons. It turns out that they had a secret research operation going for decades and didn't admit to it until we found it. Now they are talking enrichment without inspection. Sure, you need to do some enrichment to make fuel but the point to inspection is to make sure the enrichment stops at that point and doesn't continue beyond to weapons grade enrichment.

We aren't saying they can't have a power program. They certainly can. We are saying that they need to live up to the agreements they signed and allow inspection. There is no need for them to deny inspection if they are enriching for power production because that is allowed. So what is the reason they do not want their operations monitored?

Iran has had a peaceful nuclear program since the Shah. That isn't the issue.

sunguh5307 said...

What about the glaring contradiction of multilateralism vs unilateralism that direct talks between the US and Iran might entail? Someone said it far better than me, probably at realclearpolitics, but the fact remains- if we talk, then we become responsible (they won't be, since they're not us appears to be the default position). What if we have to go to war after that?

Everyone wants to blame us until they need us. Now they're trying to pass the buck since their impotent bribery has failed.

Words are cheap. Actions count. Modern conceptions of diplomacy, invested in bodies such as the UN, is found wanting on many counts.

Elam Bend said...

Personally, I don't have a problem iwth a nuclear Iran. It is just under the current regime that we must resist it.

As a real precondition, we should demand the return of our sovreign territory that was stolen in 1979, a.k.a. our embassy.

Epaminondas said...

As long as these people remain in power as they have been since 1979, given the consonance among their desires, given their stated national mission (since 1979), their stated immediate goals to accomplish that mission, I'd say we ought to do them the respect of taking them seriously.

They want a world without the great shaitan, and without Israel. They have said this for 27 years.

They are not us. Thoughts of deterrence, and that they don't want to committ national suicide are arrogant western 'everyone has our values' imposition of outcome on 'other'.

They are other. Take them seriously. They do not have our values.

Nothing will deter them from creating a bomb, and nothing will change their national mission.

Therefore the only thing which can stop a regional nuclear war, or certainly a huge regional is NO MULLAHS.

Small price to pay compared to the other price

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