Sunday, December 13, 2009

US-Iran Talks: The Road to Diplomatic Failure

By Gareth Porter

".....And when the Obama administration got wind of the Iranian request, it created a new diplomatic strategy aimed at forcing Iran to accept terms that would force it to give up most of its LEU for about a year. During a visit to Moscow in July, President Barack Obama's White House adviser on the Iranian nuclear issue, Gary Samore, reportedly approached Russian officials about a proposal that would require that Iran send its low-enriched uranium to Russia to be converted into the more highly enriched fuel rods, thus setting the clock of Iran's already-achieved breakout capability back for about a year......

It now seems certain that the G5 plus 1 will declare an end to the negotiations before the end of December and move to the next phase of sanctions. Thus, the talks with Iran will have ended without having attempted to explore the possibility of a larger bargain with Iran. That would have involved an end to overtly hostile US policies and a symbolic recognition of Iran's legitimate interests and status in Middle Eastern politics. That the Obama administration did not even try, despite Obama's commitment to diplomatic engagement, is partly due to the desire of Samore and other advisers to try to impose a diplomatic solution on Iran that could be portrayed as a diplomatic victory over Iran, even if only in the short-term.
But Samore, who crafted the ElBaradei proposal, had also believed the administration should try offering Iran involving bigger Iranian political and economic interests. The administration embraced a proposal that made it virtually impossible to retreat to negotiations with Iran based on give and take. It's attraction to the quick-fix approach certainly reflected a domestic political climate heavily influenced by the right-wing Israeli lobby. The result was to close the door to a potential settlement with Iran and head down a long, dark corridor called confrontation."

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