Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Iran-EU Nuclear Talks Postponed

According to Iranian envoys, talks between Iran and the European Union 3 (Britain, France, Germany) over Tehran's nuclear program have been postponed for several days. They are now likely to take place after top United Nations Security Council members meet on September 7, 2006 to discuss the deadlock over Iran. The US is pushing for sanctions against Tehran, claiming it wants to develop nuclear weapons. According to a Kremlin official, hitting Iran now with sanctions over its nuclear work could drive it “away from the civilized world,” in a hint of strong Russian opposition to punitive steps backed by the US. China has said that it still wants major world powers to negotiate with Iran even after it ignored a 31 August deadline, set by the UN Security Council, to stop uranium enrichment.

On September 6, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the international community to remain unified in trying to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear program, but reiterated that she saw no military solution. Speaking before parliament, Merkel also said Tehran's response to the P5+1 package of incentives was "not satisfactory."

As the five-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks approaches, the Bush administration is spotlighting an explicit terror threat: the danger that Iran could someday supply terrorists with nuclear weapons. The possibility of weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands was central to both a new terror-fighting strategy the White House issued yesterday, and to a speech Mr. Bush delivered. In both cases, the White House is arguing that the reason to worry about terrorists wielding such weapons is the prospect that Iran, with its oil wealth and potential nuclear capability, might cooperate with them.

Meanwhile, on the eve of his first trip to Washington, former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami warned that US military action in the Middle East has backfired, producing greater terrorism, imperiling the future of Iraq and damaging America's long-term interests. He also predicted that the danger of even greater instability in the region will ultimately prevent the United States from launching military strikes against Iran over disputes about its nuclear intentions. According to Khatami, although an attack on Iran would create “great damage,” “prudence and wisdom” are likely to prevail because of the incalculable “detriment and damage” it would cause to both the region and the United States.

I will be attending Khatami’s speech at the National Cathedral in Washington on September 7 and will report on it more.

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