Iran Conciliatory, Netanyahu To Push Obama

Two high-ranked Iranian officials made new conciliatory statements yesterday. Foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that in the choice between engagement and confrontation, Iran “confident of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program, has always insisted on the first alternative.” He said “We do not see any glory, pride or power in the nuclear weapons — quite the opposite.. He said that on the basis of Ayatollah Khamenei’s religious decree “the production, possession, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegitimate, futile, harmful, dangerous and prohibited as a great sin.” Regarding the IAEA, he spoke of  a “new mechanism through which we can settle outstanding issues.” He also pointed to the existence of 23,000 nuclear weapons in the world as “the gravest threat” to international security.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said that Iran had not ruled out giving the IAEA access to the country’s military sites. He said that inspection of Parchin had not been rejected and that no inspectors were present in the IAEA team in its last visit anyway. He said “I just want to tell you that last week, perhaps this is the first time I am telling you, we, in fact, offered the agency to go to another site…We offered, but the team was instructed by the director general (Yukiya Amano) to go back to Vienna. Therefore we don’t have any hesitation that every activity we have has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Regarding allegations, which is another issue, we have made a historic concession now by inviting the agency’s high officials to come to Iran. We have continued our work with the agency despite all the sanctions, the terror against our scientists, all resolutions.” In reference to allegations that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons, he said he was “one hundred percent confident” that “all this is wrong.” Soltanieh also qualified the inspection issue, saying “There should be a morality, a framework, a term of reference about what exactly they are looking for. We have to have insurance that we will not repeat the same bitter experience that every day they just come and ask for the access.”

The U.S. ambassador to the disarmament conference at which Salehi spoke was Laura E. Kennedy. She rejected Salehi’s remarks, saying that Iran had not lived up to its international obligations, that it was enriching uranium, and that its wasn’t transparent enough.

Meanwhile, another barrage of anti-Iran sentiment will soon fill the air. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Obama shortly. He is expected to press Obama to take a harder line on Iran. After that, there is going to be another AIPAC conference at which we can expect more speeches that contain anti-Iran rhetoric.

Netanyahu wants Obama to firm up his public statements. It’s not enough for him that Obama has already said that all military options are on the table. He wants Obama to state that the U.S. is preparing military attack on Iran in the event that Iran crosses certain “red lines”. He wants a U.S. pre-commitment to war if certain wires are tripped.



10:19 am on February 29, 2012