World powers agree to resume talks with Iran

Posted Mar 6, 2012 by Layne Weiss
The global powers which have been dealing with Iran's nuclear program announced Tuesday that they have accepted Iran's offer to resume negotiations, The New York Times reports.
Natanz nuclear facility  Iran
Natanz nuclear facility, Iran
Hamed Saber
About a month ago, Iran made an offer to resume negotiations, which had been stalled for over a year. They even went so far as to signal a willingness to allow inspectors to visit a military base at Parchin, "which international inspectors believe could be involved in a nuclear weapons program."
Iran continues to insist its nuclear program is being used for civilian purposes.
In a letter responding to Iran's offer, European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton wrote that the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany have agreed to resume the stalled talks. "I have offered to resume talks with Iran on the nuclear issue," Ashton announced. "We hope that Iran will now enter into a sustained process of constructive dialogue, which will deliver real progress."
The announcement comes right after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meetings with President Barack Obama and US lawmakers. Netanyahu has expressed Israel's growing fear of the threat a nuclear-armed Iran poses. Netanyahu believes that economic sanctions are not working and that the time for diplomacy is coming to an end. President Obama urged the Israeli leader to not rush into an attack. He believes diplomacy and sanctions will still prove effective.
Obama spoke at a news conference following the announcement to resume negotiations. In a bit of a backlash against Mitt Romney and other GOP presidential candidates, the President said, "This is not a game and there is nothing casual about it." Obama was referring to the "casualness" with which some of these men have talked about going to war against Iran. He reiterated his view that rushing to use force would be reckless, and said sanctions were starting to have a significant impact on Iran. Obama is pleased with today's decision, and believes there is still a very real opportunity to resolve this issue diplomatically.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague also expressed his country's support for talks. "We all agree that the international community should demonstrate its commitment to a diplomatic solution by acknowledging Iran's agreement to meet, by testing its desire to talk, and by offering it the opportunity to respond to our legitimate concern about its nuclear intentions," he said. "It is time for Iran to choose a different path and to show it wants a peaceful, negotiated solution to the nuclear issue. It is time for Iran to seize this opportunity, and we urge it to do so."
A senior E.U. official told reporters in Brussels, "Our approach to sanctions has been proven to be the right one--not targeted against the population, but meant to change the Iranian approach to the nuclear file." The official added, "We do not want talks for talks. We want concrete results,"
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, that it is time to consider a resolution to the use of force, which would not mandate the use of force, but would clearly indicate to Iran that they are willing to use force if necessary. He did comment, however, that the sanctions are indeed useful.
In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said, "No greater threat exists to the security of Israel --and indeed the United States--than a nuclear armed Iran." He added that while the US wants diplomacy to work, it will back the diplomacy with "strong and increasing" pressure, and will remain open to all options including military action.