Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Iran nuclear crisis

06/06/2006
nuclear iran-The standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions appears to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Along with Germany, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have put together a package of incentives that encourage Tehran to join direct talks about its nuclear program, and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has signaled his readiness to consider the proposal.

Ahmadinejad is regarded as a hard-liner. Previously, he had rejected all entreaties by the international community for Iran to halt uranium enrichment activities. But he now says his government will take the time to thoroughly evaluate the latest proposals. His reaction marks an abrupt turnaround.

The shift came about after the United States declared it will join Britain, France and Germany in their talks with Iran. Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the subsequent U.S. Embassy hostage crisis, Washington had resisted all direct contact with Iran. The United States labeled Iran a sponsor of terrorism and refused all negotiations. For the United States to alter course now and show a willingness to sit at the same table with Iran represents a historic policy shift.

Nuclear nonproliferation is a goal shared by the international community. In order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities, communication with and persuasion of the Iranian leadership are essential. We welcome the Bush administration's decision to commit itself to negotiation-based diplomacy.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that although this was not a grand bargain that would necessarily lead to full diplomatic relations with Iran, it was nevertheless a pragmatic choice in trying to find a solution to the issue. It seems this policy shift is the result of a power shift within the Bush administration; the unilateralist influence of so-called neo-Conservatives like Vice President Dick Cheney seems to have waned, giving rise to Rice's emphasis on international cooperation.

The European countries that have continued to seek a diplomatic solution, along with China and Russia, all welcome this shift by the Americans. It seems that the package proposal took note of Chinese and Russian concerns, and left out mention of sanction measures in the case Iran did not comply. This was a wise decision.

Iran has maintained that using uranium enrichment technologies constitutes part of its basic right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. For this reason, future negotiations will probably be difficult. The incentives said to have been offered to Iran include providing it with a light-water nuclear reactor and assurances of nuclear fuel supplies. Iran would also get commercial aviation technology and assurances of regional security. All these steps are surely worthy of Iran's serious consideration.

The realization of dialogue between the United States and Iran will no doubt have a positive influence on Middle East stability. Iran has supportive relationships with radical Muslim militants in Lebanon and Palestine, and also has influence over Shiite Muslims in Iraq.

Improved U.S.-Iran relations will also help improve the security situation in Iraq.

For Japan, it will be difficult to pursue the development project of the Azadegan oil field in Iran, unless the international community's concerns over Iran are dissipated.

It was Ahmadinejad himself who sent a letter to Bush calling for dialogue. If Iran fails to recognize the shift in American policy, and rejects the proposal, then the international community will start discussing sanctions again.

We urge Iran to grasp this historic opportunity, and take the first step toward solving the nuclear issue through dialogue with the West.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 5(IHT/Asahi: June 6,2006)
posted by ali ghannadi-irannuk

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