Ron Ben-Yishai

Waiting for Khatami

US preparing for Iran talks, which will likely get underway after June elections

Part 2 of analysis


In order to ensure successful dialogue with Iran, the United States is adopting several steps, as follows:


  • Demanding that Iran show basic willingness to reach a compromise on the uranium enrichment front. A hint of this came in President Barack Obama's inauguration speech, where he explicitly said that he is willing to extend a hand to any Middle Eastern element willing to "unclench their first." Or simply put: The US does not merely want a verbal expression of goodwill, but rather, a genuine gesture. Thus far, the Iranians have not complied with this implicit demand. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he is ready for dialogue with the US from a position of "mutual respect." Yet he did not offer any kind of practical step that would signal willingness to compromise.
  • Preparing effective pressure levers, that is, a big stick to be held by negotiators on behalf of the US behind their back when they sit down to the negotiation table with the Iranians. This lever is an advance agreement with Russia and China to impose truly painful sanctions on Iran (via the Security Council) that would threaten the regime's stability, should the dialogue fail. To that end, the Administration in Washington embarked last week on a reconciliatory move vis-à-vis Russia. In a letter sent by Obama to Russian President Medvedev, he proposed to resolve all the strategic disagreement between Russian and the US via dialogue. He also hinted that should Russia be willing to fully cooperate with the US on Iran, the US would be willing to renounce its plan to deploy anti-missile interception systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Officials in Washington estimate that China would be willing to adopt any action plan against Iran that would be acceptable to Russia.
  • Postponing the dialogue with Iran to the period after the presidential elections in Iran in June of this year. It is clear to Washington that Dialogue with Iran at this time would boost the position of President Ahmadinejad among Iranian voters. This would enable him to reject the criticism directed at him and the accusations that he is at fault for Iran's economic trouble, because he isolated Tehran in the international arena and prompted the UN sanctions. Officials in Washington prefer the former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, who is running against Ahmadinejad. He at least proved in the past (in 2003) that he is willing to suspend Iran's nuclear plan for a limited period of time.


פרסום ראשון: 03.12.09, 00:43
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