Tuesday, April 14, 2009

US drops preconditions for Iran talks

I guess and especially hope we're seeing the wind-down of the Iranian nuclear issue.

The US and Europe are preparing to make a major concession to Iran to end the deadlock over its nuclear programme, according to American and European sources.

In what amounts to a major policy shift, the Obama administration is set to drop a precondition for the start of negotiations on the nuclear issue - that Iran first suspends its uranium enrichment process.

The precondition has been the biggest stumbling block in efforts over the past few years to open talks. The Bush administration insisted upon it but Tehran adamantly refused.

How I've read the process described is that talks will commence without any suspension, but the goal will still be suspension. I find it unlikely that Iran will suspend after talks begin, but if the US ultimately plans on accepting Iran having the same status as Brazil, Japan or Romania - having enough of a fuel cycle to make weapons in theory but under IAEA inspections, this is a good first step towards that goal.

If the US is adamant that it will not allow enrichment at the end of negotiations, there is no reason to even begin negotiations unless Iran indicates it is willing to stop enrichment. Bush's position that negotiations should not begin without suspension as a precondition was reasonable given the US position that Iran must ultimately give up enrichment until it gets permission from the US or the security council. That position that Iran must ultimately give up enrichment was what was unreasonable.

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