For 8 years, Bush-Cheney practiced what I call “belligerent Ostrichism” toward Iran. They refused to talk to Tehran. They wanted to ratchet up sanctions on it. Bush sent 2 aircraft carriers to the Gulf to menace Iran. Bush’s spokesmen professed themselves afraid of Iran’s unarmed little speedboats in the Gulf. Aside from issuing threats to attack and destroy Iran the way they did Iraq, Bush-Cheney had nothing else to say on the matter. During the 8 years, Iran went from being able to enrich to .2% to being able to enrich to 3.8%, and increased its stock of centrifuges significantly. Bush-Cheney gesticulated and grimaced and fainted away at the horror of it all, but they accomplished diddly-squat.
Barack Obama pwned Bush-Cheney in one day, and got more concessions from Iran in 7 1/2 hours than the former administration got in 8 years of saber-rattling.
Delegates of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany met with representatives of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for 7 and a half hours on Thursday for talks on Iran’s nuclear research program.
Amazingly, there were signs of significant progress even on the first day, which most seasoned observers had not expected.
1. Iran agreed to allow inspectors from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the newly announced facility near Qom within the next two weeks.
2. Iran agreed to meet again at the end of October.
3. Iran agreed to send “most” of its stock of low enriched uranium (3.5%) to Russia for processing to the roughly 20% degree of enrichment needed to run its small reactor producing medical isotopes. Iran has about 3200 pounds of low-enriched uranium, and is willing to send 2600 to Russia. That is a little over a ton, or about what a single Ford Focus weighs.
Iran does not anyway have the ability to enrich to more than about 4.8% at the moment, and the medical reactor will be out of fuel in a little over a year, so if they continued to want the medical isotopes they would be forced to take this step anyway.
The NYT report on all this adds in all kinds of extraneous and unproven allegations, of a network of secret enrichment plants or secret stores of low-enriched uranium or nefarious Iranian plans to make a bomb, or of Iran having enough nuclear material to make a bomb (irrelevant if they can’t enrich to 90%), and what Israel thinks of all this (since the Israelis really have thumbed their nose at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and made a whole arsenal of bombs, thus further destabilizing the Middle East, why they aren’t under UN sanctions I’ll never understand; but they certainly don’t have standing to dictate anything to other countries on the proliferation issue). It reminds me of all the NYT front page stories about aluminum tubes and Iraqi WMD of Judy Miller in 2002. Isn’t it bad journalism to report completely unproven allegations for which there is no evidence?
Back to the real world: The steps outlined above are only pledges on Iran’s part, of course, and we have to see if they are implemented.
President Obama made much the same points, demanding that Iran follow through on fuller IAEA inspections, a long-time demand of the US.
Presumably the regime is being so forthcoming because it needs a win on the international stage to shore up its flagging legitimacy at home, in the way of presidential elections widely viewed as fraudulent. It is possible that hard liners like the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps will attempt to torpedo these positive moves.
For further proof that Congress has numerous brain-dead people in it, its reaction to Iran’s being forthcoming in Geneva was to authorize legislation that would try to punish companies for supplying gasoline to Iran. Somehow I think someone will take the contract, and anyway Iran will up its petroleum refining capacity in the coming couple of years. Congress should worry how the US is going to fuel its transportation in coming years.
The USG Open Source Center translated the remarks of Khamenei’s secretary, Sa’id Jalili, on the Geneva negotiations:
“FYI — Iran Nuclear Negotiator Jalili Says 5+1 Talks Positive
Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN)
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Document Type: OSC Summary
Tehran Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN) in Persian at 1636 GMT began a live relay of a news conference by Iran’s Supreme Security Council secretary Sa’id Jalili in Geneva following the 5+1 nuclear talks. The news conference was also broadcast live by Press TV and Al-Alam TV.
Jalili said that today’s talks concentrated on security, international developments, economy, and regional issues. He added that these talks could be a platform to resolve the regional and global issues. Jalili said that one of the most important issues is global security. Jalili added that some media try to create terror within their audience. He called it “media terrorism.”
Jalili said: “One of the important issues we have proposed in the proposal package is to deal with some of the genuine threats which the human community suffers from and should be concerned about. One of these issues is the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). WMDs are a threat to the human community, which must definitely be dealt with through international cooperation. The issue of disarmament is the most important one.”
Iran’s nuclear negotiator asked for all nuclear arsenals to be destroyed. Jalili said that at the same time countries have the right to achieve peaceful nuclear technology. Jalili said that best method is to boost international regulations bodies, such as the IAEA and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Jalili then referred to the global financial crisis. He said that worldwide cooperation could be useful in resolving this matter. Jalili criticized the country’s that support sanctions and said sanctions will not help the global financial crisis.
Jalili then talked about terrorism, narcotics, and organized crime. He said that if the public are not scared then a basis for mutual cooperation will be created.
Jalili called the Geneva talks constructive. He said: “Today we have agreed to continue these talks with a positive thinking. Hopefully next month we can reach an agreement on how to continue these talks so that cooperation would become reality.”
Jalili then started answering questions.
In response to a question by an Egyptian correspondent, Jalili said: Worldwide and regional security is only possible through cooperation.
Jalili said that today’s talks mainly concentrated on how to take these talks forward.
An Israeli correspondent asked Jalili about Ahmadinezhad’s comments on Israel. Jalili refused to answer his question. Another correspondent asked the same question from Jalili. The Iranian official said that the Palestine problem is a 60 year-old issue. Jalili said that Iran wants a democratic solution to the Palestinian territories. He added that only a just solution could work for the people of this region.
A German correspondent asked if there are any unknown nuclear facilities in Iran. Jalili said that everything has to go through the IAEA. Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities are in full cooperation with IAEA, Jalili said.
One correspondent asked about the outcome of talks with William Burns, the US representative. Jalili said that he was aware that the 5+1 countries had a united stance against Iran, but that the talks were productive.
Fars news agency, affiliated to Iran Revolution Guards Corps, asked if the talks with the 5+1 countries would continue and Jalili’s response was positive.”
End/ (Not Continued)