Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Iran Considering Incentive Package

Is this a genuine reception to a rational proposal? Or is this merely a faint by a religious meglomaniac out to precipitate the apocalypse?

The Washington Post reports:
"Iran responded warmly but evenly Tuesday to formal delivery of the package of incentives and possible penalties assembled by Washington and five other world powers hoping to coax Tehran to put aside its nuclear program.

'We had constructive talks,' said Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, after meeting for two hours with Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief. 'There are some positive steps in it, and also some ambiguities. . . .'"

Larijani did not elaborate, but diplomats said the atmospherics surrounding the meeting, in the palatial offices of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, appeared to reinforce the recent assurances by Iranian officials that the new proposal would be considered seriously.

"The good news is, as they have said they would in recent days, they are really going to consider the proposals and study them, not reject them almost immediately like they did last summer," said one European diplomat living in Iran.

The current package, backed by all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, includes many of the incentives offered to Tehran in August. At the time three European powers were leading negotiations that had dragged on for two years and Iran was preparing to resume its efforts to enrich uranium, having judged the talks were intended to go on indefinitely.
The Iranians consideration of the proposal flies in the face of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's most recent statements. However, Mr. Lariijani's close ties to Mr. Khamenei may suggest that the leadership is willing to consider what the West has to say.

But to what end?

The Mullahcracy has made the right of Iran to develop nuclear technology the cornerstone of Iran's domestic policy. A capitulation to the West on Uranium enrichment is therefore impossible. Why would they consider the proposal, then? For one thing, it buys them time. Iran's continued negotiation with the European big 5 plus the US delays any initiative by the UNSC to impose sanctions. It also provides suitable cover to Iran's chief customers, China and Russia. Neither of these nations has seriously indicated what stick, if any, they would impose on a defiant Iran. A conciliatory Iran that "warmly receives" a proposal to address the world's concerns regarding her nuclear industry requires no stick.

The Good-cop/Bad-cop routine buys Iran time. While Iran considers the proposal, the uranium enrichment most likely continues. No UN or IAEA inspectors have access to Iran's nuclear facilities. The world has no way of knowing whether or not Iran is processing enriched Uranium for electricity or warheads.

Let the Mullahs consider the generous offer Europe has put on the table. But may the West not allow them to consider the offer for too long. Otherwise, the current negotiation will once more yield nothing. Worse, a potentially nuclear-armed Iran may arise in the Middle East out of the ashes of such a failure.

The West can't allow that. Period.