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What a Relief! Iran Might Agree to Bilateral Talks

What a relief! The White House is open to direct talks with Iran. (Previously, the White House sought talks via the P5+1 group, so as not to elevate a hostile Iran by offering one on one negotiations). And Iran might be open to direct talks with the White House. As reported in The Telegraph:  The Iranian foreign minister “gave a positive reaction to comments by Joe Biden that Washington was willing to hold what would be the first direct, open negotiations with Iran since 1979.” … “But he failed to confirm whether Iran would actually take part in any of these negotiations, indicating divisions in the country’s senior leadership.”

I’m sorry to resort to sarcasm, but this is embarrassing. If Iran’s recent history is any guide, their willingness to consider negotiations is, in reality, obfuscation designed to buy time and cover for the steady advancement of their nuclear program. I urge you to study that history: Iran agrees to negotiate only when faced with a physical threat such as an Israeli airstrike, or when fishing for economic “incentives.” It then refuses to show up to negotiations, or refuses to make any concessions in negotiations, or hastily backs out of negotiations.

Let’s look at the second half of 2012 alone:

—In June, facing the possibility of an Israeli airstrike, Iran agreed to new negotiations (having subverted all the previous ones). Even though they had been fooled by Iran multiple times, President Obama and Secretary Clinton welcomed the negotiations. But these talks failed like all the others.

—In October, The Washington Post reported that Iran was accusing U.N. inspectors of  spying and sabotage, and was threatening to restrict U.N. access to Iranian nuclear facilities. “So strident has been Iran’s criticism of the International Atomic Energy Agency in recent weeks that some Western officials fear that the country is preparing to officially downgrade its cooperation with the nuclear watchdog. The Vienna-based agency is the only international body allowed to routinely visit Iran’s most sensitive nuclear installations.”

—In November, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had completed work on an underground factory for making enriched uranium that could someday be used to make a nuclear bomb. U.N. inspectors also documented a sharp rise in Iran’s stockpile of a more purified form of enriched uranium that could be converted relatively easily into fissile material, and warned that these advances could potentially shorten the country’s pathway to becoming a nuclear-weapons state.

This did not stop the administration from getting its hopes up again.

—In December, the Washington Post reported:  “The United States and five other world powers are hastily preparing for possible new talks with Iran amid signs that the country’s leaders might be willing to meet as early as next week to discuss scaling back nuclear activities in return for future sanctions relief. The six powers have agreed on a new package of inducements to be offered to Iran if it agrees to freeze key parts of its nuclear program … Iran rejected a similar deal earlier this year, but U.S. officials said they were modestly hopeful that Tehran’s position had softened under the strain of international sanctions.”

The latest “package of inducements” did no good – didn’t even get Iran to the negotiating table.

–In January, the Washington Post reported, “Iran has told U.N. nuclear officials that it plans to add potentially hundreds of next-generation centrifuge machines to its main uranium-enrichment plant, a move that could dramatically boost its ability to produce the fuel used in nuclear power plants and — potentially — in nuclear bombs.”

So, let’s get this straight. Iran is now openly and unambiguously defying the “international community” upon which the Obama administration pinned all its hopes. And the Administration’s response is to offer Iran one-on-one negotiations that bypass the international community. Hmmmmm – Is the administration resorting to the “unilateralism” it consistently decries for the sake of getting some agreement – any agreement – with Iran?

  1. David Williamson

    It’s hard to guess whose tongue is more forked – the Iranians’ or Mr Obama’s.

    Well, fortunately, Mr Kerry will be the interlocutor – what could go wrong?

  2. Johnny Dubya

    Here’s the bad news: The Iranians will only agree to bilateral talks if they’re between Vice President Biden and the space monkey.

  3. Israel P.

    Mr. Secrekerry.

  4. Tommy De Seno
    C

    To talk or not to talk?

    My own opinion is that any American administration should never stop talking to anyone in power in a foreign nation.

    Talking is a pre-requisite to going to war. It’s a duty a President owes to a soldier.

    I could never ask a young soldier to go shoot someone dead without assurances that I did every diplomatic effort imaginable to not put the soldier in that position.

    I couldn’t imagine saying to a soldier, “Go kill.  Talk to the other guy’s leader first?  No.  Might make me look bad, or be fodder for my political adversaries to say talking to him means I’m endorsing something he did.  Just go kill.”

  5. Group Captain Mandrake

    The idea that Iran might enter into bilateral talks with the White House could well qualify as one of the six impossible things that the Red Queen believed before breakfast.  Here are my choices for the other five in increasing order of improbability:

    Harry Reid will pass a budget.

    The Mets will win the 2013 World Series.

    The most egregious parts of the Dodd-Frank Act will be repealed.

    A working perpetual motion machine will be invented.

    I will become an enthusiastic watcher of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

    What are your choices?

  6. Anne R. Pierce

    In response to “To talk or not to talk?” – I agree to a point.  Here’s what I said in a previous post entitled Burying Our Heads in the Sand of Iran:

    Post World War II presidents knew the historical lesson all too well. The attempt to use negotiation to solve the problem of Hitler’s military mobilization and bellicosity had been futile. While England and France negotiated, Hitler continued on with his plans, violated every agreement, and played us for fools. By encouraging the deception that Germany was amenable to some ultimate compromise, negotiations lessened the gravity with which Germany’s expansionist activities were seen. From Hitler’s meteoric rise, we learned that we ignore the ideology and regime-type of others to our own peril. Extremist ideas foster fanatics so beholden to ideology that attempting to use negotiations to stop them can be like placing a band aid on an open wound. (Continued due to space restrictions.)

  7. Anne R. Pierce

    (continued from #6)

    Although negotiation is an indispensable tool of foreign policy, extremists use negotiations to buy time for their deadly aims. Following Hitler’s lead, they use words like rights, fairness and equality to legitimize their regimes and to literally and figuratively disarm us. Michael Rubin documented the Clinton administration’s persistent policy of engagement with the Taliban and its determination to hold onto that policy in the face of Taliban hostility and obfuscation: Diplomats met with the Taliban every few weeks and “what resulted was theater.”  “The Taliban would stonewall on terrorism but would also dangle just enough hope to keep diplomats calling and forestall punitive strategies.” They played to our cultural relativism by talking about Afghan ‘custom.’ Engagement allowed the Taliban a reprieve so that they could better prepare and arm for an attack.

  8. Tommy De Seno
    C
    Anne R. Pierce: (continued from #6)

    Although negotiation is an indispensable tool of foreign policy, extremists use negotiations to buy time for their deadly aims. Following Hitler’s lead, they use words like rights, fairness and equalityto legitimize their regimes and to literally and figuratively disarm us. Michael Rubin documented the Clinton administration’s persistent policy of engagement with the Taliban and its determination to hold onto that policy in the face of Taliban hostility and obfuscation: Diplomats met with the Taliban every few weeks and “what resulted was theater.”  “The Taliban would stonewall on terrorism but would also dangle just enough hope to keep diplomats calling and forestall punitive strategies.” They played to our cultural relativism by talking about Afghan ‘custom.’ Engagement allowed the Taliban a reprieve so that they could better prepare and arm for an attack. · 4 minutes ago

    I certainly don’t mean talk past the point of futility.   And don’t be played for a fool.

    But by all means talk first.  

    Talking does have to mean be nice.  Sometimes talking is grabbing a guy by the lapels and telling him what he is in store for if he doesn’t act right.

  9. FirstAmendment

    I wonder what to expect from John Kerry. I assume he’ll be very similar to Hillary Clinton.

  10. doc molloy

    For Iran it’s more about buying time not bi-lateral talks.. The Iranians have said what they mean to do.. the rest is talk and talk is cheap with the likes of Aminajihad. 

  11. Anne R. Pierce
    Brigid McMenamin: Iran’s behavior probably has more to do with its own internal political divisions than with anything else. We need to understand those politics if we’re to deal effectively with Iran. Without that knowledge we can’t even decipher Iran’s behavior. · 9 hours ago

    I’m not an expert on Iran, but I do know that there are internal divisions in the govt., but that the hardliners have ultimate power, and rule with an iron fist.

    Re. Iranian citizens -There was massive discontentment  and an exponentially growing resistance movement at the time Obama/Clinton came to power. Why they rescinded Voice of America-type programs, reached out to the thuggish leaders rather than reformers, encouraged the “international community” to accept Ahmadinejad as the chosen leader after the brutal crackdown on protests over rigged elections, is beyond me. Regime change from within would be the best outcome for Iranians, and for the rest of the world.  This is exactly the kind of regime that, historically, engages in extremist aggression.

  12. Zafar

    So what’s the preferred alternative?

    In fact, what’s the preferred outcome and why?

  13. Brigid McMenamin

    Iran’s behavior probably has more to do with its own internal political divisions than with anything else. We need to understand those politics if we’re to deal effectively with Iran. Without that knowledge we can’t even decipher Iran’s behavior.

  14. doc molloy

    To paraphrase one of Mark Steyn’s favourite lyricists Dorothy Fields.. and perhaps so apropos..

    Aminajihad for war simply because you fear me

    Funny but when you fear me, Aminajihad for war. Heaven is in my lies, bright as the nuclear stars we’re under, Oh, is it any wonder, Aminajihad in for war.

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