While US President Bush continues to insist that diplomacy is the first step, and the best way forward, on dealing with the Iran Crisis, he has a strange version of what the word means. He refuses flat-out to even talk to the Iranian President, or any senior Iranian officials, and Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, continues to demand Iran stop work on a nuclear weapons program that Russia and China, and now Germany and France, are not convinced is even underway.
It will be at least two weeks before the UN Security Council meets again to discuss the Iran Crisis, much to the chagrin of the US, who was hoping the involvement of France and Germany would help pressure China and Russia into backing calls for sanctions against Iran.
But China and Russia have refused to play ball, fearing any support for sanctions against Iran may lead to war. In short, Russia and China no longer trust the US, despite President Bush repeatedly insisting that there are no plans for War On Iran, or military strikes.
But he has toned down the rhetoric. Bush no longer says "all options are on the table". Now he talks almost exclusively about the power and wonders of diplomacy.
"In the short term ... we'll keep diplomacy going, knitted up with as many nations as possible," said Bush.
"I think it's very important for good negotiators to keep their cards close to the chest and at the appropriate time, make it clear what our intentions are. This is a serious issue, taking a lot of our time as it should."From the Washington Post : The Bush administration is facing pressure both in the United States and overseas to drop its long-standing refusal to talk directly with Iran about its nuclear program, particularly in the wake of the unusual 18-page letter sent this week to President Bush by Iran's president.
Germany is one of the three European Union countries that have jointly held inconclusive talks with Tehran. German officials have made little secret of their belief that diplomacy will not succeed without direct U.S. intervention.
Ruprecht Polenz, the influential chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the German parliament and an ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, lashed out last Friday against the administration's policy after returning from a two-day visit to Iran. "Washington's refusal to join direct talks with Iran won't make it any easier to achieve a diplomatic solution to the current nuclear dispute," he said.
(Secretary of State) Rice asserted yesterday that "the absence of communication is not a problem with the Iranians" because there have been plenty of proposals advanced through the Europeans and the Russians. But, alluding to Iran's alleged failure to respond constructively to those proposals, she asked: "What is to be gained if Iran is not prepared to show that it is ready to accede to the demands of the international community?"
Critics of the administration's approach assert that diplomacy has failed thus far because Iran has little incentive to deal as long as its main antagonist, the United States, is not at the table. They also note that the failure of the United State to negotiate with Iran is only hardening suspicions that Bush secretly intends a military strike, making it increasingly difficult to isolate Tehran.Iran Ready To Negotiate With US, Still Regards Israel As A "Tyrannical Regime"
Iran Faults Rice's Dismissal Of President's Letter