'Obama considering Iran policy shift'

New York Times: US may drop insistence Teheran cease all uranium enrichment before negotiating.

Ahmadinejad Natanz 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Ahmadinejad Natanz 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
US President Barack Obama is working on a dramatic change in strategy with regard to the Iranian nuclear program, according to officials quoted by the New York Times on Tuesday. The shift in policy, according to the report, centers on the US dropping its insistence that the Islamic republic immediately cease all activity in its nuclear program during the initial phases of talks. The US would instead encourage Teheran to allow inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities. The aides quoted in the New York Times report said that Obama was still deciding exact details of the plan. "We have all agreed that is simply not going to work - experience tells us the Iranians are not going to buy it," a senior European official involved in the talks with the US was quoted as saying of the West's recent attempts to bring about a stop to the Iranian nuclear program. "So we are going to start with some interim steps, to build a little trust." The officials noted that regardless of the possible policy shift, the ultimate aim of the US and its European allies would the eventual cessation of Iran's nuclear enrichment program. An Israeli official close to the US talks on the matter was quoted as putting a time limit on such an approach, saying that Obama only had until the end of the year to bring about Iranian uranium production before Israel would reconsider military options. An Obama official told the New York Times that such noises from Israel were not seen as "just huffing and puffing." The chief of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohammed ElBaradei, made comments last week that seemingly supported such a move away from the previous US administration's approach, according to the New York Times report. He was quoted as calling former US president George W. Bush's tactics "ridiculous," adding, "They thought that if you threatened enough and pounded the table and sent Cheney off to act like Darth Vader the Iranians would just stop." "If the goal was to make sure that Iran would not have the knowledge and the capability to manufacture nuclear fuel, we had a policy that was a total failure," the IAEA chief opined. He went on to recommend that Obama "design an approach that is sensitive to Iran's pride."