After 30 years without diplomatic contact, US and Iranian officials will finally be sitting down at the same table together to negotiate.
Last week, Iran responded to Western governments’ invitation for another round of negotiations. Iran’s proposal was criticized for being too general, discussing the potential for negotiations on political security, international, and economic issues without mentioning their nuclear program. Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad have both restated Iran will not stop uranium enrichment. The proposal does speak broadly of the importance of global nuclear weapons disarmament.
However, after examining the proposal, the State Department has announced that the US and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany have accepted Iran’s offer for talks. This willingness to engage in talks without preconditions is a marked and welcome departure from the Bush administration, and was a stance embraced by Obama as a presidential candidate. The US still hopes to bring up Iran’s nuclear program in the process of negotiations. In recent weeks, we have been hearing many people making the case for harsh sanctions and even military action against Iran. Real negotiations are our best chance to actually resolve tensions with Iran. According to a State Department spokesman:
“We are seeking a meeting now based on the Iranian paper to see what Iran is prepared to do,” Crowley said. “And then, as the president has said, you know, if Iran responds to our interest in a meeting, we’ll see when that can occur. We hope that will occur as soon as possible.”
…Crowley said Iran’s lack of interest in addressing its nuclear program is not a reason to refuse to talk.
…Crowley said there is no assumption that new talks with Iran will be productive. But the proposal made Wednesday by the Iranian government indicated at least a new willingness to engage diplomatically, he said.