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?