Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A game of inches

Diplomacy comes in small steps in an intricate dance that is much more art than science.

nuclear iran--That's being played out among Iran, the United States and members of the European Union and the U.N. Security Council.

First, there was a demand that Iran cease any activities that appear headed for development of nuclear weapons capability, followed by Iran's adamant refusal to do so; then discussions between a group of European nations and Iran to see whether a confrontation can be avoided (but without obvious and public U.S. participation); then a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that could be read many ways, but which experts considered a sincere offer to open dialogue with the United States.

The letter initially was dismissed as containing nothing new.

On May 31, the United States announced that it was willing to join the direct European talks -- but only if Tehran suspends uranium enrichment. Iran welcomed the idea of direct talks but disagreed with preconditions.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the United States and international partners have reached agreement on a deal that would offer Iran economic incentives if it gives up nuclear activities that could produce a bomb.

Also Thursday, President Bush said the matter was headed to the Security Council unless Iran halts enrichment efforts.

On Friday in Vienna, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- all with vetoes on the Security Council -- and Germany agree to the proposal for Iran.

Also on Friday, Rice said on NBC's Today show that Iran needs to respond within weeks to proposals.

This week, the package was presented to Tehran, where Iranian National Security Chief Ali Larijani called the talks "constructive."

The next step? It should be that Iran agrees to a deal that avoids the imposition of U.N. sanctions -- but that remains to be seen.

Diplomacy is slow and frustrating. But while it proceeds, the only thing being dropped on anybody is words. And although they may sting, they don't kill.
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk


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