Sunday, May 14, 2006

A New Gesture From Iran?

The White House has brushed aside a new letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to President Bush that was designed, according to a senior Iranian official, to offer "new ways for getting out of the current, fragile international situation," a reference to the impasse between the two countries over Iran's alleged drive to develop nuclear weapons.

The letter, a 17-page discourse on everything from religion to history and politics, was dismissed by Administration officials as a last-minute attempt by Iran to divide members of the U.N. Security Council, who are considering whether to impose sanctions on Iran. "This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

But a second document, written by a top Iranian official and given to TIME just before Ahmadinejad's letter was made public, offers a more concrete foundation for negotiations to resolve the nuclear impasse. In the two-page memorandum, intended for publication in the West, Hassan Rohani,representative of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, on the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) and Iran's former top nuclear negotiator, defends Iran's nuclear posture, decries American bullying, and puts forward a plan to remove the nuclear issue from the U.N. Security Council and return it to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, a long-standing Iranian goal.

The letter also offers some specific Iranian starting points for negotiation. Rohani said Iran would "consider ratifying the Additional Protocol, which provides for intrusive and snap inspections," and that it would also "address the question of preventing 'break-out'" — or abandonement of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).


US Ignores Call for direct US-Iranian talks:

While the United States has no desire or intent to punish the Iranian people, they "should be aware that it is their regime that has put them in this place right now, where they are increasingly isolated from the rest of the world," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"It is incumbent upon the Iranian regime to take steps to demonstrate that they are interested and committed to resolving this issue through diplomatic means," he added.


Well, what the hell are those letters? And the calls for direct talks?


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