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***Iran May be Willing to Suspend Uranium Enrichment

by Steven D Mon Aug 21st, 2006 at 05:12:03 AM EST

Iran may be willing to discuss the suspension of its uranium enrichment program according to this article from  Bloomberg.com:

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Iran is ready to discuss with the European Union the suspension of its atomic activities, the country's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said.

``We are even ready to discuss the offer on nuclear activity suspension, which we see as illogical,'' the state-run news agency IRNA quoted Mottaki as saying today at a news conference in Tehran.

The United Nations Security Council on July 31 gave Iran until the end of this month to accept a European Union-led proposal of incentives, and suspend uranium enrichment, or face the threat of economic sanctions. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday underlined Iran's intention to respond formally to the offer on Aug. 22.

This somewhat contradicts earlier statements this week from Ahmadinejad that Iran would not suspend it nuclear program in the face of threatened sanctions by the United Nations.  Also interesting is who gets left out of the possible negotiations:  the United States.  This may be simply a maneuver to break Bush's tentative alliance with the EU on the issue of Iran's nuclear activities, or it may be a legitimate overture.

***Back from front page

After all, Iran may believe that any negotiations with the US at this point would be futile in light of the American government's efforts to stall a negotiated cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah.  Iran isn't stupid, nor is their president.  Despite his rash statements regarding Israel on many occasions he has shown himself to be far shrewder on the diplomatic front than the Bush administration over the last  year.  He knows he and his country are in the sights of the Neocons as America's next war to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East.

In either case, it presents a test of the strength of the alliance between Bush and the EU on the issue of Iran's nuclear activities.  I expect to see a condemnation of Iran's diplomatic move from the US government (probably to be issued by John Bolton, but maybe from Condi Rice) with a corresponding issistence to the Europeans that no negotiations take place until Iran suspends uranium enrichment.  Which begs the question:  Will Bush's European allies stand with the US, or will they choose to pursue separate negotiations with Iran?

If the EU accepts Iran's overture and negotiations begin, it disrupts both Bush's timetable for war, and his ability to make use of Iran's alleged threat in the midterm election campaign.  No doubt, Ahmadinejad is well aware of the political implications for Bush if the Iranian threat is diminished in the run up to Election Day in the US.  On the other hand, he also wishes to continue his enrichment program, and to prepare for its disbursement of facilities, scientists and nuclear materials prior to any possible US attack.  He is well aware that "regime change" in Iran is the ultimate goal of the Bush administration whether or not the Republican party retains control of Congress this Fall.

Ahmadinejad's playing a bit of a dangerous game, and its not clear how much support for his policies he has from the ruling mullahs, whose governmental authority and power outrank his own.  It's doubtful he can act completely independently of their wishes.  With the deadline to accept the UN demand that all uranium enrichment end rapidly approaching, the next few days and weeks should prove interesting.

Front paged at Booman Tribune

Curious to see what you folks think the EU's response to Iran's overture will be.
by Steven D on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 11:20:26 AM EST
is for the EU to take the offer seriously and try to mend some fences.

They are indeed playing a shrewd game: Israel has taken a big prestige and pride setback, with the US as a captive gagged passenger on an ill-fated mission. What better time to announce a potential rapprochement with the EU? Yes, it is clearly intended as divisive, but also to demonstrate that the 'stick' has no influence on them, and can we have some carrots please.

The US has no Mid-East policy. They are just making it up as they go along while singing from a fascist songbook. The EU should have realised this by now. We need some sensible diplomacy fast. The UN is still the only way forward, with the EU guiding discussions. If that means that the US is increasingly exposed by its vetoes to come as petulant rich bully then so be it.

It will hasten an end to morally corrupt government in the US and hopefully bring a bit of reality into US media.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 11:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it will infuriate Bush if the EU takes it seriously, I'm sure of that, but I remain convinced he will still want to attack Iran even if his party loses control of Congress in November.
by Steven D on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 11:46:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think his preferred timeline involves attacking Iran before the mid-terms.

Uniting the country around the flag of yet another Global War against whatever-we-call-it-this-time has worked before in driving the sheep through the republican gates, no doubt it will work again. Maybe not as well, but a few percentage points is all they'll need.

My worry is how they'll attack Iran. I think that Israel's setback has made the likelihood of some nuclear activity more rather than less likely. I share Billmon's pessimism on this, but I'm hoping for the best.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 12:31:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmmm. I wonder if maybe the Iranians know this and are playing a longer game.

From their point of view, a delay of a few months would be a small price to pay for a big win for the Dems in November.

If Iran is officially off the map as a target, it becomes that much harder for the NeoLoons to stage a convincing October surprise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 12:41:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would agree with this view. I think the Iranians are very clear about the knee-jerk responses from the US that they can subtly toy with.

It is classic 'Art of War' stuff.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 01:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that an attack will fly, and I'm sure that any sort of Nuclear attack will cause an early change of government here.  The Democrats are running strong in places like Montana, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada and some places in Rural California.  The country is very uneasy, like I haven't seen it for decades.

I think we are more likely to see increasing bluster, and the further attempts to pack the judiciary, and draft as many laws as possible to salt away the billions of dollars they have stolen and try to insulate themselves from any coming investigations.

Trouble is coming to the United States, and people are seeing that the right-wing administration has brought down the standard of living in many areas.  The religious right is embittered, the classic conservatives are adrift, the neo-cons are discredited.

This is the best chance for the progressive wing of the country to make a move since 68.  The price of failure is appalling.  Please wish us well.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson

by NearlyNormal on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 04:38:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree (and have sang this song several times on this forum).  We Americans will not go for a war to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.

The Iranian Govt., doesn't appear to be interested in negotiation in good faith on this one. Europe, you may be on your own to figure out whether it's the discussions that the Iranians consider "illogical" or their suspension of nuclear activity. Beats me, but it's probably both.  I would rather talk to North Korea than the current regime in Iran.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 11:48:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Steven for this! Funny, but I'm not hearing or reading much about it in the press today...a big secret??

Anyway, I have been preparing myself emotionally for the October surprise that Bush/Cheney wants to do...because for them the biggest threat to their security is one or both sides of the Congress in the hands of a Democratic majority. Power is all they care about...

So....I truly hope this move by Iran is true...and I hope it works out, for all of our sakes...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Thu Aug 17th, 2006 at 04:20:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The question is how much of this is Ahmadinejad and how much is more senior people. He's the face of this but he sure as hell doesn't have free-rein with foreign policy.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 01:12:46 PM EST
He knows he and his country are in the sights of the Neocons as America's next war to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East.

That doesn't mean it's likely to happen. To put it mildly, it's not in the interest of Republican congresspeople running for reelection this fall for oil to be at $150 a barrel in October, and Bush will need their support to bomb Iran. Why so many Europeans think that starting a war is an automatic way to get Americans to vote Republican is beyond me. Someone please tell me. It's also not in Ahmadinejad's interest to play with oil supplies as he needs the oil revenue to run the state (it's funny that a lot of people, not you in this case, often refer to Ahmadinejad as a smart, shrewd politician who understands Iran's interests and in the same breath talk about him wanting to start an apocalyptic jihad).

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 01:13:20 PM EST
Well, it's not any more. But warrr and terrraa have worked as reliable vote winners for the last six years or so.

The problem is that the NeoLoons haven't yet realised that running these memes up the flagpole and saluting at them, while patriotic tears trickle manfully down their wrinkled cheeks, isn't a winning plan any more.

The Great American Public has finally moved on. The NeoLoons haven't. Hence the concern from European shores.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 01:28:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not "vote Republican" but "vote Incumbent".

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 01:31:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a genuine issue in the upcoming elections. As far as I'm concerned, any of my representatives that voted for the war in Iraq will not get my vote ever again.  Some of them are very senior and hold good committee positions, but their vote for the war was an inexcusable abrogation of their primary responsibilities.  I know one for sure who absolutely should have known better owing to seniority, position and access to information.  He has made some good decisions, but he's a goner. Let me rant on about this, I boil every time I think about it!!

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Thu Aug 17th, 2006 at 12:04:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Steven D, on Booman's you say this:

I contend Bush intervened in the Iranian election to ensure the most extreme radical candidate won.  That makes it easier to paint Iran as a threat.

I take it you mean Ahmadinejad. Can you elaborate on this?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 04:24:50 PM EST
The Bush admin made lots of noises about Iran, and the need for regime change around the time of the Iranian election in the summer of 2005 (LINK), essentially sinking any moderate hopes for victory.  All the rhetoric from the American government was a gift to Ahmadinejad.  And I suspect it was a deliberate attempt to get someone in office who they knew would be more radical and more extreme in his statements, thus making it easier to paint Iran as the next Islamofascist stae we needed to take down.
by Steven D on Wed Aug 16th, 2006 at 07:22:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. Yes, true, there are noises there from Bush that cannot have helped the moderates.

Though the principal way Iranian moderates were sidelined for a long time was simply the invasion of Iraq.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Aug 17th, 2006 at 03:31:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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