Iran Willing to Resume Nuclear Talks: Expect Rope-a-Dope Diplomacy


Iran Willing to Resume Nuclear Talks: Expect Rope-a-Dope Diplomacy

Oct 11, 2010 2 min read
James Phillips

Visiting Fellow, Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies

James Phillips is a Visiting Fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

Iran’s embattled regime Saturday announced that it is ready to resume talks about Iran’s illicit nuclear activities, which have triggered four rounds of U.N. sanctions. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that “We think late October or early November will be an appropriate date for the talks by the representatives of Iran and 5+1 countries,” (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany). The U.N.-sponsored talks had stalled last October after Tehran rejected an offer to exchange some of its low enriched uranium stocks for more highly enriched uranium fuel for its research reactor.

The Obama Administration, like a jilted lover, immediately indicated its willingness to resume its diplomatic courtship: “If Iran is ready to hold talks, all they need to do is pick up the phone and set a date,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Although the Obama Administration is ever ready to engage in more diplomacy, a resumption of the talks is unlikely to produce much in the way of concrete results. Tehran long has been willing to talk, but has refused to make any concessions. Tehran’s diplomatic rope-a-dope strategy always has relied heavily on coy promises of fruitful dialogue that soon decay into diplomatic globaloney.

Tehran hopes that dilatory diplomacy may help create the illusion of progress and forestall future sanctions, buying time for advancing its uranium enrichment efforts. But Iran’s nuclear program also has been beset by defections and the introduction of a mysterious computer virus. Iranian officials have played down the problems and claim that the delay in starting up the nuclear power reactor at Bushehr was caused by “a small leak” and not a computer virus.

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear program, acknowledged the activities of “nuclear spies” but claimed that the regime had arrested several Iranians who had been paid by western intelligence agencies to reveal Iran’s nuclear secrets. He also indicated Iran had taken action to protect its nuclear program from cyber-sabotage.

Meanwhile, Iran’s surrogate terrorist group in Lebanon, Hezbollah, today called for its supporters to turn out at a giant rally next week to greet President Ahmadinejad on his October 13-14 visit to Lebanon. The Iranian leader has said that he will tour Lebanon’s southern border with Israel, a highly provocative act in view of his repeated statements calling for Israel’s destruction. Iran’s future plans undoubtedly will be signaled more accurately by Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon than by another round of diplomatic posturing.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal