A Reply from Rohani

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The new president of Iran, Hassan Rohani, has replied to Obama’s statement, which indicated no real change in the U.S. position, not yet anyway. Rohani appointed a top negotiator as his foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif. He went to college in Colorado. Rohani thus signals that he is serious, but he also said “the U.S. and the European Union should drop sanctions imposed to stop the country’s nuclear enrichment program.” This has been Iran’s position for some time.

Actually, the White House statement by Carney came AFTER Rohani’s, so that Obama, in public at least, hasn’t budged. He still wants Iran to make a move first. But Rohani in June has already promised greater transparency. The response he got has been negative, as far as we know from public reports. The U.S. Senate on Aug. 2 (76 senators) wrote to Obama asking that he “toughen sanctions and reinforce the credibility of our option to use military force at the same time as we fully explore a diplomatic solution to our dispute with Iran.”

If Obama is serious, all he has to do is dispatch someone to talk with Zarif, and he can easily moderate the sanctions policy in return for something from Iran. He could even say something that suggested that the military option was less of a possibility. There are all kinds of ways to reach an agreement if he really wants to. For forward motion, there has to be some more positive response to Rohani, even a statement, which involves no concession, that the U.S. wishes to explore the offer of greater transparency. We do not know what’s going on behind closed doors.

9:49 am on August 5, 2013
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