IRAN TALKS ON LIFE SUPPORT – AT 8:26 A.M. ET: The first day of talks with Iran in Baghdad produced no breakthroughs, and not much optimism either. From WaPo:
BAGHDAD — A second day of talks between Iran and world powers began Thursday amid fading hopes that these latest negotiations would help ease tensions over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
Iran rejected a new package of proposals put forward by the six nations, including the United States, on Wednesday, but U.S. officials said the fact that the talks were being extended into Thursday suggested there was still hope the effort could be salvaged.
The package contained what U.S. officials said were confidence-building measures that Iran would need to take to show that its nuclear program is not aimed at producing a weapon, including a reduction in the degree to which the country is enriching uranium, from 20 percent to 5 percent.
But there was no offer of immediate relief from the biting economic sanctions that are hurting Iran’s economy and, notably, no proposal to reconsider a potentially crippling prohibition on Iranian oil exports by the European Union that is to go into effect July 1, a top priority for Tehran.
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency condemned the package as “outdated, not comprehensive and unbalanced.”
“There is no balance, and there is nothing to get in return,” the news agency said.
U.S. officials said they are still hopeful that enough common ground would be found Thursday to schedule another round of talks soon. With Israel threatening to strike Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent the Islamic republic from developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb, many military and security experts have portrayed these latest talks, which began in Istanbul last month after a 15-month hiatus, as a last chance to avert war.
COMMENT: That last paragraph is the dilemma in a nutshell. There is a group around Obama, typical of some parts of our "diplomatic community," that holds negotiations to schedule other negotiations. In other words, the purpose of negotiations is negotiations. No it's not. The purpose is to achieve an objective.
Also, the credible Israeli threats of force are what gave these talks a real sense of urgency. A credible threat of force is often the first step toward peace. However, it may not be the case in this instance, as it's inconceivable that the Iranians, having come this far in their nuclear program, would give up their quest for the bomb.
We have slightly more than five months to go before the election. If these talks collapse, add Iran to a list of issues that can change the election's outcome. The president may have some tough decisions to make.
May 24, 2012