Western powers have agreed to an Iranian request to resume negotiations on its nuclear program, even as politicking GOP presidential candidates and Israel’s prime minister kept up the war rhetoric.
Writing on behalf of the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany), the EU foreign policy chief Lady Ashton sent a letter to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, agreeing that talks should restart as soon as possible. Jalili had sent a letter last month requesting the EU powers resume talks.
“Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, while respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy consistent with the NPT [nuclear non-proliferation treaty].”
The last set of talks broke down early last year after an extremely limited amount of time was given to diplomatic efforts. A deal was developed in which Iran would halt 20 percent enrichment in exchange for swapping enriched uranium for foreign-made fuel rods for the Tehran research reactor. Iran initially rejected the deal, but reluctantly agreed after Brazil and Turkey joined in the discussions. By that point, the Obama administration rejected Iranian acquiescence, probably eager to show their muscle through sanctions and isolation.
Iran also announced on Tuesday that it would give UN nuclear inspectors access to its Parchin military complex. IAEA officials were denied that access weeks ago, which fueled speculation about Iran’s nuclear enrichment.
President Obama said on Tuesday that these were signs that a diplomatic effort could address the Iranian nuclear issue before military action was necessary. In contrast, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told an AIPAC on Monday that diplomacy and sanctions had failed and that “none of us can afford to wait much longer” before the military option is taken.
Mitt Romney, top contender for the GOP nomination, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post declaring incorrectly that Iran is “racing to build a nuclear bomb” and urging more tough war talk on Iran. Newt Gingrich said that Iran has already crossed “a red line,” meaning its already past time for the U.S. to attack.
While Obama has pushed war hawks to stem their goose-stepping for now, he has largely placated their pressure thus far. Punitive sanctions and harmful diplomatic isolation were placed on Iran despite the fact that the intelligence community agreed Iran had made no moves towards weapons development.
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