Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.S. Mulls Methods of Engaging Iran
The United States is considering how to overcome decades of tension with Iran in an attempt to win Tehran's cooperation on its nuclear work and other issues, U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 9).
"My national security team is currently reviewing our existing Iran policy, looking at areas where we can have constructive dialogue, where we can directly engage with them," Obama said in his first White House press conference. "My expectation is that in the coming months we will be looking for openings that can be created where we can start sitting across the table, face to face; of diplomatic overtures that will allow us to move our policy in a new direction."
The United States and other Western powers have expressed concern that Iran's uranium enrichment program could produce fuel for a nuclear weapon, but Tehran has insisted the effort is strictly intended for civilian energy production while consistently refusing to halt it.
Obama criticized Iranian leaders for "their development of a nuclear weapon or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon" as well as for allegedly funding militant groups across the Middle East and directing "bellicose language" toward Israel.
"It's important that even as we engage in this direct diplomacy, we are very clear about certain deep concerns that we have as a country, that Iran understands that we find the funding of terrorist organizations unacceptable, that we're clear about the fact that a nuclear Iran could set off a nuclear arms race in the region that would be profoundly destabilizing.
"There are going to be a set of objectives that we have in these conversations, but I think that there's the possibility, at least, of a relationship of mutual respect and progress.
"If you look at how we've approached the Middle East ... it indicates the degree to which we want to do things differently in the region. Now it's time for Iran to send some signals that it wants to act differently as well and recognize that even as it has some rights as a member of the international community, with those rights come responsibilities," Obama said (Diane Barnes, Global Security Newswire, Feb. 10).
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today said his country would join discussions with the United States as part of an emerging international "era of dialogue," the Associated Press reported.
"The Iranian nation is ready for talks (with the U.S.) but in a fair atmosphere with mutual respect," Ahmadinejad said, noting that the sides could discuss nuclear disarmament among other issues.
"If you really want to fight terrorism, come and cooperate with the Iranian nation, which is the biggest victim of terrorism so that terrorism is eliminated," he said. "If you want to confront nuclear weapons ... you need to stand beside Iran so it can introduce a correct path to you" (Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press/Washington Post, Feb. 10).
Former top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani yesterday encouraged the United States to present Iran with its Middle East proposals through diplomatic channels, AFP reported.
"If they believe in some plan, they should present it through diplomatic means. Diplomacy was created for that," Larijani said. "If Iran feels that there really exists a firm decision to solve the problems of the region, if it feels the change in the United States is a strategic change and not tactical, and that talks with Iran would help national interests and those of the region, Iran could examine it."
"Talking about negotiations should not be a juggling game in the media," he said (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Feb. 9).
Meanwhile, Russia yesterday said it would finish building Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant by an established deadline, RIA Novosti reported. The facility's construction has hit several delays since Russia agreed in 1998 to complete it.
"I want to stress once again the readiness of the Russian side to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant within the set timeframe. I believe that after the shipment of nuclear fuel for the electric power plant that took place last year, the Iranian side should have no doubts on this score," Russian Foreign Ministry official Alexander Maryasov said.
Asked Thursday whether the site could begin preliminary operations in 2009, Maryasov said: "Yes. We are moving according to schedule."
Iran and Russia were discussing issues related to completing and starting the plant as well as various technical, economic and commercial considerations, he added.
German firms began work on the Bushehr plant in 1975, but the United States disrupted the project by restricting sales of sensitive technology to Iran after its 1979 Islamic revolution (RIA Novosti, Feb. 9).
Feb. 14, 2013
A new brochure describes the origins and the work of the Nuclear Security Project.
Feb. 14, 2013
George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn laid out their vision of a world without nuclear weapons and the urgent, practical steps to get there in a groundbreaking series of co-authored Wall Street Journal op-eds.
This article provides an overview of Iran’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.