Thursday, November 01, 2007

Real News: Senator Calls for Unconditional Talks with Iran

This is an important indicator that the current US policy of a suspension as a pre-requisite for talks is not sustainable.

First it was posted by Steve Clemons, a well established liberal leaning blogger:

I have just secured a private letter -- not yet publicly released -- from Senator Chuck Hagel to President Bush and copied to Condoleezza Rice, Robert Gates, and Stephen Hadley. I should add that I did not receive this letter from Senator Hagel but from other sources.

The letter itself mainly claims, in as polite language as possible, that the US policy has failed and will continue to fail.

I am increasingly concerned, however, that this diplomatic strategy is stalling. There are growing differences with our international partners. Concerns remain that the United States' actual objectives is regime change in Iran, not a change in Iran's behavior. Prospects for further action in the UN Security Council have grown dim, and we appear increasingly reliant on a single-track effort to expand financial pressure on Iran outside of the UN Security Council. Iran's actions, both on its nuclear program and in Iraq, are unchanged. Iran's leaders appear increasingly confident in their positions vis-a-vis the United States.

Unless there is a strategic shift, I believe we will find ourselves in a dangerous and increasingly isolated position in the coming months. I do not see how the collective actions that we are now taking will produce the results that we seek. If this continues, our ability to sustain a united international front will weaken as countries grow uncertain over our motives and unwilling to risk open confrontation with Iran, and we are left with fewer and fewer policy options.

Now is the time for the United States to active consider when and how to offer direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with Iran. The offer should be made even as we continue to work with our allies on financial pressure, in the UN Security Council on a third sanctions resolution, and in the region to support those Middle East countries who share our concerns with Iran. The November report by IAEA Director General ElBaradei to the IAEA Board of Governors could provide an opportunity to advance the offer of bilateral talks.

The equivalent of this would be Rafsanjani in Iran publicly issuing an open letter to Khameini and Ahmadinejad suggesting a suspension.

Rafsanjani putting a letter like that where the Americans could see it would mean that Iranian society has not just Rafsanjani but large elements that do not agree with the current strategy and the US would take it to mean it can just coast under the current conditions until that side gets bigger and bigger.

Iran will take this letter to mean the same thing, not that Iran needed a letter like this to continue its policy.

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