Thursday, October 1, 2009
Iran appears to be ready for negotiations over its nuclear programs
News that Iran has agreed, at least in principle, to open its secret uranium enrichment plant near Qum to international inspectors and to send abroad most of the uranium it has already enriched raises the intriguing prospect of a significant change in the world order. The agreement could signal a new willingness on Iran's part to cooperate with leading world powers on a host of pending issues, including its suspected quest for nuclear weapons, its support for terrorist groups and its threats to attack Israel. But it also could simply be more obfuscation or prevarication by the Islamic republic, which has already misled Western nations about its nuclear facilities, according to the New York Times. Iran denies it is trying to build nuclear weapons and insists it only wants to develop nuclear power for electricity -- a claim seemingly belied by its vast petroleum reserves. Western nations have threatened to impose additional economic sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear activities, and Iran could simply be trying to prevent that. “We’re not interested in talking for the sake of talking,” U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters in the White House on Thursday, the Times said. “If Iran does not take steps in the near future to live up to its obligations, then the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely." U.S. allies France and Britain have agreed to delay imposing additional penalties on Iran until December. Obama said Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, agreed to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the Qum facility within the next two weeks. The multiparty negotiations near Geneva that led to Thursday's agreement were the highest-level direct contact between Iran and the United States since the 1979 revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah and included a yearlong embassy hostage crisis that was the start of decades of animosity between the two countries.