Western negotiators are preparing for the next round of talks onIran s controversial nuclear program later this month inBaghdad. Predictions of war seem, at least for now, to bereplaced by a focus on diplomacy. Earlier this year, threats of armed conflict rumbled across theMiddle East. Iran launched war games near the Persian Gulf. |
Israeli warplanes conducted drills to ready for attack. And a battle-ready U.S. aircraft carrier cruised off the coast ofIran. Analysts say the show on both sides was largely posturing as theWest continued to pursue a tougher sanctions policy against Iran.
So if you don t want to see war you have to comply with this newregime of sanctions, and actually they did to a large extent, said Mehdi Khalaji of the Washington Institute. Then the rhetoric cooled considerably after a meeting in Istanbullast month when Iranian negotiators appeared more flexible thanexpected. If the talks in Istanbul can be called one step forward, I msure, God willing, we will take a few steps forward in Baghdad, said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Iran is calling on the West to lift sanctions that are cripplingits economy, but the West is standing firm. We re going to keep the sanctions in place and the pressure onIran as they consider what they will bring to the table in Baghdadand we will respond accordingly, said U.S.
Secretary of StateHillary Clinton. Analysts say any Iranian deal must include face-saving measuresthat allow Tehran to portray the agreement as a victory. Because for Iran, its image in the world, or within Muslimnations, is not less important than its nuclear achievements, Khalaji said. Analysts point to a growing divide in Israel over Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu's threat to attack Iran.
"I have no faith in the prime minister, nor in the defenseminister. I really don t have faith in a leadership that makesdecisions out of messianic feelings," said Yuval Diskin, the formerchief of Israel s domestic security service. But Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says such critics ignorethe past. Iranian deception and lies concerning their nuclearprogram have been on-going and well-documented.
Yet parts ofthe world, including some politically motivated Israeli figures,prefer to bury their heads in the sand, he said. U.S. intelligence officials say Iran is keeping open the option todevelop nuclear weapons, but has not yet made the decision to builda bomb. But if Tehran's intentions are peaceful as it claims, then itshould prove it, says Mehdi Khalaji. Iran should show that it is not looking for a nuclear bomb and itis willing to comply with its international commitments and it isable to build confidence with the international community, hesaid.
In the next talks in Baghdad, Western nations are expected to seekcompromises on Iran s enrichment program, and the Iran crisiscould heat up again if no significant progress is made.
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