Officials in the International Atomic Energy Agency are meeting in Iran this week for the second round of talks in a month on the status of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, a meeting that could potentially stymie efforts in the West to preemptively strike Iran.
“This meeting is a crucial opportunity for everyone, including the Iranians, to get serious,” Arms Control Association Director Daryl Kimball told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Getting serious means focusing on the near-term problem that 20 percent enriched uranium represents” which drives the “hysterical war talk in some quarters.”
Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has not demonstrated any intention of doing so, according to the U.S. military and intelligence community. The latest IAEA report, while exaggerated in the media, confirmed Iran’s nuclear material was not being diverted to a weapons program.
Still, hawks in both Israel and the United States insist on believing Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons. The government of Israel, currently led by the right-wing administration of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been decidedly for a preemptive military attack on Iran, while the Obama administration has pushed back, preferring instead to cripple the Iranian economy through harsh economic sanctions and support proxy terrorism against Iranian civilians.
The instability has not only raised the specter of war, but has disrupted international oil markets. Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high of nearly $105 a barrel this week after Iran announced the halt on exports to Britain and France, for their continued “hostile acts.” Some analysts predict they could hit $150 per barrel if tensions continue to escalate.
Iran sent the European Union a letter on February 15 requesting a resumption of negotiations at the “earliest possibility.” The U.S. is expected to respond this week to that request, according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.