- Rice Firm on Demand that Iran Suspend Uranium Work
- by Sue Pleming (Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Tuesday it would be a big mistake to drop a demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and more pressure should be piled on Tehran over its nuclear programme.
The U.N. atomic watchdog agency’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, annoyed the United States and others last week when he called for a face-saving compromise that could cap Iran’s uranium enrichment at current levels rather than demand full suspension of a program the West says is aimed at building an atomic bomb.
- Iranian Rejects Enrichment Suspension
- by Nasser Karimi (Associated Press)
On the eve of talks with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Iran’s nuclear negotiator Wednesday rejected the possibility of Iran suspending its uranium enrichment program.
- 3 Iranian-Americans Charged With Spying
- by The Associated Press
Three Iranian-Americans, including U.S. academic Haleh Esfandiari, have been charged with endangering national security and espionage, Iran’s judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.
- Votes on Iran Highlight Capitol Hill Divide
- by Nathaniel Popper (The Forward)
Attempts to limit President Bush’s ability to wage war against Iran were narrowly defeated in Congress last week, in a legislative debate that underscored differences between House Democrats and pro-Israel activists on Capitol Hill.
The tussle revolved around two separate legislative amendments aimed at ruling out the possibility of the White House ordering preventive military action against Iran without prior consent from Congress.
Setting the Record Straight
“There are a growing number of voices arguing for the United States to engage Iran and even to enter into negotiations with its regime. I believe that this would be a disastrous mistake.”
–Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on “The Iranian Challenge,” March 6, 2007
The top U.S. commander in the Middle East said Iran is a major player in the area and cannot be ignored, but the United States has no intention of leaving the region, as Iran would like to see happen: "We have to figure out a way to come to an arrangement with them.”
–The Associated Press, quoting Adm. William Fallon, Commander, U.S. Central Command, May 27, 2007
CORRECTION: In Friday’s edition of the Bulletin we referred to Gilad Sharon as a Member of Knesset, which he is not. We apologize for the error.
by Howard LaFranchi, excerpted from the Christian Science Monitor
The first public, senior-level talks between the United States and Iran in more than two decades were never going to be a lovefest. But the fact that the four hours of discussions on Iraq’s security took place at all Monday suggests how much each of the two avowed opponents–and indeed the top leader of each country–wanted them.
On the U.S. side, and for President George Bush, joining these talks signals a new determination to test all diplomatic avenues for bringing greater security and stability to Iraq. Beyond that, it heralds the rise of foreign-policy pragmatists within the US administration. Access the full article>>
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker meets his Iranian counterpart Hassan Kazemi Qomi. (Hadi Mizban/AP)
"For now, the U.S.-Iran dialogue suggests a new pragmatism."
Middle East Analysis
- Iran’s Nuclear Program
- by Gary Samore, former Senior Director for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls at the National Security Council (Strategic Comments)
With the new United Nations Security Council deadline looming in late May, neither side appears willing to relent. While some outside experts have advocated unconditional nuclear talks with Iran, the P-5 see little value in negotiating the nuclear issue while Iran continues to develop its enrichment capacity. Under these circumstances, Iran would have every incentive to drag out the talks while working to achieve its nuclear objectives.
For its part, Iran fears that if it does agree to halt its activities, the P-5 would have their own reason to drag out the talks, keeping Iran’s enrichment programme on ice indefinitely while threatening to re-impose sanctions if Iran were to re-start it. …
For now, Washington is prepared to let diplomacy ‘play out’ because Iran is not making rapid technical progress towards acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability and because Washington believes that its diplomatic strategy is having some effect. Ultimately, however, if Iran begins to reach critical technical thresholds, and diplomatic means fail to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment programme, then consideration of military options will come into play, despite all the risks and drawbacks. Access the full report>>
- Changes in Iran’s Strategic Posture
- by Ephraim Kam, Institute for National Security Studies, Tel Aviv
Several developments in the region since 2003 have prompted major changes in Iran’s strategic posture. The events in Iraq represent the most important development, as the 2003 war effected a dramatic change in Iran’s most important neighbor. Iraq currently houses a large and threatening American force, sent there to overthrow a regime that at the time was perceived in the United States as developing weapons of mass destruction and heavily involved in terror.
The American threat appears even more ominous when considering that at the end of 2001 the US overthrew another Muslim regime, the Taliban in Afghanistan. The result of the military action in two neighbor states is that Iran is encircled by states connected to the US, some of which are still housing American forces.
The signal to Iran was clear: if Iran did not cease developing weapons of mass destruction and promoting terror, it too could be subject to the threat of military action. Access the full article>>
- The Challenge of Iran
When: Friday, June 1, 3:00-4:15p.m.
Where: ICC Auditorium, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
Daniel Byman, Director, Georgetown Center For Peace and Security Studies
Robert Gallucci, former Assistant Secretary of State
Paul Pillar, former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia
Steve Ward, Intelligence analyst
Heard on the Street
- U.S. Diplomat: Conflict is Not Inevitable or Desirable
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns spoke at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston on April 11, 2007:
"On March 29, in my testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I said that diplomacy is our best course of action in blocking and containing the Iranian regime; that a military confrontation with Iran is not desirable, nor is it inevitable if we continue our skilled diplomatic course and have the patience to see it play out over the mid- to long-term. I am confident that we can avoid a conflict and see our strategy succeed.
"The response was remarkable. Every Democratic senator and every Republican senator said the same thing: that they support what we are doing in Iran … to be patient enough because we do have some time before Iran becomes a nuclear-capable country. Patient enough and devoted enough to our belief in diplomacy that we might create international coalitions to pressure the Iranians on each of those issues—and I think we are doing that."
Access the full report>>
- Key Events in U.S.-Iran Relations
1979-1980: Hostage Crisis: Iranian students overrun the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take more than 60 Americans hostage. Talks between the U.S. and Iran to secure the release of the hostages culminate in the 1981 Algiers Accords.
1985-1986: Iran-Contra: Secret contacts between American and Iranian officials aimed at freeing U.S. hostages held by pro-Iranian guerillas in Lebanon take place.
1988: Tensions in the Persian Gulf: U.S. warships sank an Iranian frigate and shelled two Persian Gulf oil platforms in response to a mine attack against U.S. frigate. The U.S. Navy accidentally shot down an Iranian commercial jet.
1995: Economic Sanctions: The U.S. imposed sanctions, first prohibiting American companies from doing business with Iran, then embargoing non-American companies investing in Iran’s oil and gas sector.
1998: Hopes for New Ties: Iran’s new president, Mohammed Khatami, called for a “dialogue among civilizations” on CNN.
2000: U.S. Overture: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apologized for the U.S. role in the 1953 overthrow of Iran’s prime minister. Some sanctions were lifted. Albright later met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi as part of the Six-Plus-Two regional talks on Afghanistan.
2001: Post-9/11 Cooperation on Afghanistan: The U.S. and Iran, with other UN members, met to form a post-Taliban government and constitution.
2002: Axis of Evil Speech: President Bush mentions Iran as part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union speech.
2003: Iran’s Overture: An overture from Iran for comprehensive bilateral talks, reportedly signed off at the highest levels of government, was offered to U.S. officials in May.
2004: Powell’s Brief Meeting: Outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Iran’s foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, at an international conference on Iraq.
2006: Ahmadinejad’s Letter: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent President Bush a rambling eighteen-page letter.
2006-2007: Growing Tensions in Iraq and Gulf: U.S. forces detain Iranians alleged to support violent groups in Iraq and Iran and U.S. holds naval exercises in the Gulf.
2007: Contacts on Iraq: Secretary of State Rice and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki exchanged pleasantries at a May conference on Iraq.
Also in May, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker met his Iranian counterpart in a “businesslike” meeting on Iraqi security issues
From a report by Lionel Beehner, Council on Foreign Relations with additional resources (PBS, International Herald Tribune, Reuters, The State Department, The White House)
Middle East Progress appreciates the support and cooperation of Americans for Peace Now, Geneva Initiative, Israel Policy Forum, and New Israel Fund.