Editorial: Talks with Iran

The military option, which still “remains on the table,” may ultimately be the only effective way of halting the Iranians’ stubborn march toward their goal of nuclear weapons.

Demonstrators wave Iran's flag  (photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
Demonstrators wave Iran's flag
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
Iranian officials were in a decidedly defiant mood ahead of talks Tuesday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, with negotiators representing the P5 + 1 – the US, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France.
“If they want constructive negotiations, it’s better this time they come with a new strategy and credible proposals,” Saeed Jalili, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, told reporters before he left for Almaty.
Iranian officials were continuing their long record of intransigence. Last week they turned down a Western proposal to gradually lift sanctions on trading in gold in return for the closing of a mountain bunker enrichment facility called Fordow. The officials said the site would never be closed because it afforded protection against attacks, particularly from the “Zionist regime.”
And the Islamic Republic continues to move ahead with its nuclear program. Just last week, inspectors from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency counted nearly 200 advanced machines fully or partially installed at Iran’s main uranium enrichment site, confirming fears that Tehran continues to upgrade its nuclear program to the point where it will have nuclear arms capability.
Indeed, since the last talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Moscow last June, the Mullah regime has continued to increase its stockpile of uranium to 20 percent purity.
The total stockpile of 20% enriched uranium has grown to 167 kilograms, according to the IAEA, still below the 240 to 250 kilograms experts consider necessary – once enriched further – to produce nuclear weapons.
In addition, the Iranians have yet to complete an agreement on inspection of suspect military sites with the IAEA. In February 2010, the IAEA stated for the first time bluntly that Iran was indeed actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability.
The P5+1’s objective is to get Iran to obey UN Security Council resolutions ordering it to suspend enrichment and open itself up fully to IAEA inspectors, to ensure there is no effort to build a nuclear weapon.
Attempts to get Iran to comply via dialogue are doomed to failure. In October, ahead of the US presidential elections, The New York Times reported that the US and Iran had agreed to direct negotiations. But Iran has since rejected such an option.
The mullah regime is so antagonistic to the “Big Satan” that even Michelle Obama’s announcement of Argo as the Best Picture winner by video at the Oscars was spun as a direct affront to the Islamic Republic. The Revolutionary Guard-affiliated Fars news agency, which edited the photo to cover up the first lady’s shoulders, went out of its way to attack Obama for announcing the “anti-Iran film which is produced by the Zionist company Warner Bros.” The Iranian government even organized a conference to discuss the ideology behind films like Argo, and their use in promoting an anti-Iranian, Islamophobic agenda.
With dialogue unlikely to lead to a breakthrough, the Security Council, the US and the EU have created an increasingly painful set of economic sanctions. Just this week in a bipartisan effort, the US Congress called on the European Central Bank to sharply tighten its sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic by denying Iran access to Euro-denominated foreign exchange reserves.
In a letter, 36 senators, including Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and 2016 Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, called on the ECB to stop Iran from using the “Target2” clearing system for global Euro transactions.
Iran’s use of Target2 was enabling it to circumvent new sanction rules that came into force on February 6, forcing Tehran to keep the proceeds of all oil sales in local currencies.
Yet despite their deteriorating economy, Iran remains defiant as it prepares for elections in June. Ayatollah Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s supreme spiritual bully, vowed that his nation would never back down.
“If the Iranian people had wanted to surrender to the Americans, they would not have carried out a revolution,” Khamenei said in a meeting at his home earlier this month that was broadcast by the Iranian news media.
Unfortunately, the military option, which still “remains on the table,” may ultimately be the only effective way of halting the Iranians’ stubborn march toward their goal of nuclear weapons.