Breaking: U.S. agrees to direct talks with Iran (Update: Iran says thanks but no thanks)
posted at 5:18 pm on May 31, 2006 by Allahpundit
Fox News is reporting. Condi Rice has scheduled a news conference for 11 a.m. Supposedly, one of our conditions is that Iran give up uranium enrichment. I’ll be surprised if that demand lasts the week.
Read this and this while we’re waiting for Rice. Tough luck for Saddam that he didn’t push his nuke program harder, huh? He might have earned himself some restored diplomatic relations or, if he played his cards right, maybe even a peace treaty.
The Times will no doubt be thrilled by the news. Charles Krauthammer warned against bilateral talks with Iran on Friday, but these negotiations will be multilateral — which, he argues, could work, but only if the Europeans agree to support military strikes if the talks fail. Which, of course, they won’t. His next column should be interesting. Meanwhile, the world’s non-aligned states cover their eyes.
Standby for coverage of Rice’s presser.
Update: Sure, they’ll stop enriching uranium. No problem.
Update: “Iranians will not allow nuclear research to be suspended even for a while.”
Update: Rice says the U.S. acknowledges Iran’s right to “civil nuclear energy.” There’ll be economic “benefits” if they suspend their enrichment program. She says Iran needs to stop supporting terror in Iraq and Lebanon if they want to come back fully into the international fold. Now she’s pushing democracy in Iran.
Update: She’s taking questions now. The long and short of it is that the ball’s back in Iran’s court: if, as suspected, they refuse to stop enriching uranium then we’re off the hook for not talking to them directly. We offered, they declined. But here’s the thing: why on earth would she acknowledge Iran’s right to nuclear energy? Presumably that’s a concession to the Iranian people, who have had propaganda to that effect drummed into them for months. But what happens if Iran calls our bluff, suspends enrichment temporarily in order to get us to the table, and then starts enriching uranium again for its “energy” program? She’s already conceded they have the right to do so. On what grounds does she object next time?
Update: Reader Dylan A. thinks the “civil nuclear energy” gambit is Rice’s way of saying that Iran can have a reactor but they’ll have to import the nuclear fuel they use rather than enrich it themselves. Probably right. But is that how Iranians will interpret it? Won’t the mullahs point to Rice’s concession as proof that the Americans are being unfair if/when we object to them enriching uranium for their alleged “energy” needs?
Update: As expected, Iran says it won’t agree to talks if there are any preconditions. IRNA reports on Rice’s speech, calling it “a propaganda move” and adding that halting enrichment would be against Iranian interests.