Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kerry: US position of no enrichment was "ridiculous"

It's becoming clear that the US is preparing to admit it has lost this campaign to prevent Iran from having domestic uranium enrichment. The US has not yet made a commitment to give up on it though. I would not be stunned if the US still at this point tries to make an offer that requires an indefinite suspension of enrichment until Iran gets US permission to continue and presses for sanctions when Iran rejects that offer. But that scenario is looking slightly less likely now that John Kerry, well known as well connected to Obama and his administration, has emphatically spoken against Bush's demand that Iran not have one spinning centrifuge.

Certainly [the line should be for Iran] not to be a quote nuclear weapon state. Now some people can argue about when you are a nuclear weapons state. Capability versus, different definitions of that, just leave that there for a minute.

The key here is that, first of all the Bush administration [argument of] no enrichment was ridiculous, on its face, because Iran is a signatory to the [nuclear] Non-Proliferation Treaty and whether they are inside or outside their obligations, to ask them to give up something that was within their rights within the treaty assuming they were up to their obligations is a non-starter. It was bombastic diplomacy. It was wasted energy. It sort of hardened the lines, if you will (inaudible).

Because it seemed so unreasonable to people. They have a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose. But they don’t have a right, obviously, to be outside of the other restraints of the IAEA and of the non-proliferation agreement. And so the key here was to really open a different kind of dialogue with them about where you draw the line.

He's right though. Condoleeza Rice could have accepted fewer than 200 spinning centrifuges in 2006 and there is a solid possibility Iran would have ratified the additional protocols by now. But I suspect the US and Israel also have an interest in sanctions for the sake of sanctions. US sanctions on Iran began long before there was a nuclear issue, and the nuclear issue provided a pretext to get other countries to participate in sanctions the US favors anyway.

Kerry also says a little about a two state solution:

I believe you can work out a two state solution with demilitarisation, with adequate verification, with adequate buffers and it may even involve some kind of force on the ground, in the buffer zone, as a security backup somehow, there are all kinds of modalities that are possible.

"Demilitarization", "buffers", "force on the ground" are each, by themselves, issues I'm doubtful could pass a Palestinian referendum. Abbas, is a discredited obvious US/Israeli stooge at this point, and I'm not sure even he'd put his name on an agreement that Kerry is envisioning.

But the point here is that there is at least a possibility that the Palestinians are going to reject the reservations Israel and the United States are contemplating offering them. What will be the step after that? Obama and Kerry are working with the assumption that Abbas will accept whatever the US offers and can bring the Palestinians along. I think both of those assumptions are wrong, but clearly either assumption can possibly fail to hold.

If the Abbas or the Palestinians do not accept what the US offers, which will be "minimal", and I think they will not and should not, then it is time to begin formulating a single state that protects individual rights but allows a more general return.

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