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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Analysis: Getting Iran to the Table

Council on Foreign Relations

April 25, 2007
Prepared by: Lionel Beehner

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program may finally move forward with reports that key European states are mulling a new diplomatic approach. European Union officials appear to have softened their stance (al-Jazeera) and may allow Iran to keep its existing centrifuges and agree to a suspension of further UN sanctions if Iran agrees to a moratorium on future production. In other words—as the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana recently told Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani—Europe would not demand the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program as a prerequisite to negotiations. Even some U.S. officials say they might entertain (AP) such an offer, though the State Department denies it would allow Iran to retain any homegrown enrichment capacity.

President Bush, in an April 24 interview with Charlie Rose, did not rule out direct negotiations with the Iranians—but said the United States sought talks only on the issue of Iraqi security, not on Tehran’s nuclear program. It remains unclear whether Iran will send its foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, to Egypt next month for the second round of multilateral talks on Iraq. Iran says it feels rebuffed on a number of fronts. Last month’s meeting in Baghdad marked the first time in a few years Iranian diplomats sat across the table from their U.S. counterparts. But the Iranians claim they had no say (WashPost) on the location and agenda of the meeting. They also said Iraqi officials reneged on a promise to release five Iranian operatives seized by U.S. forces in Iraq. Hence, Iran says it will not send Mottaki to Egypt for the follow-up meeting. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari have urged Iran to reconsider.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.

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