Issacharoff and Harel / Obama has to step up the rhetoric, too (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel 04/12/12)
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Iran said on Wednesday it would present "new proposals" regarding its
nuclear program at talks with six world powers that will open in
Istanbul over the weekend. Said Jalili, Tehran´s chief nuclear
negotiator, told the Iranian media he hopes his interlocutors - the
United States, Britain, China, Russia and France - "enter the talks
with constructive approaches."
Jalili didn´t go into details, but he was more conciliatory compared
with Tehran´s statements earlier this week, which dismissed the
United States´ proposed overtures that were published by the New York
Times. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, for example, warned against
setting preconditions for the talks, saying they would not help
resolve the crisis.
The talks, which will start on Saturday, are the first negotiations
between the parties to the forum since the last round was suspended
in January last year. They have already agreed that the next round
will take place in Baghdad, at a time that has yet to be determined.
Israeli officials have said that the U.S. administration is putting
more pressure on Iran than before; this is due to Israel´s threats to
strike Iran´s nuclear facilities over the past few months. Ministers
have said the current international sanctions go beyond what Israel
thought would be possible at this stage.
Paralyzing international trade
The escalating pressure includes cutting off Iranian banks from a
system facilitating international transfers - effectively paralyzing
Iran´s international trade.
It also includes the mounting U.S. military presence in the Persian
Gulf, which poses a real threat to the Islamic Republic. In an
apparent move to strengthen its position ahead of the talks, Iran
lashed back this week and halted oil exports to Germany, Spain and
But both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud
Barak have said that the current sanctions - though rigorous - won´t
be enough to halt the Iranian nuclear program. U.S. officials have
been saying that a containment policy is no longer relevant, which
President Barack Obama stressed in his speech to AIPAC last month.
Obama´s more assertive stance on Iran cannot be solely attributed to
Israel´s belligerent rhetoric, which the White House is bending over
backward to rein in. It also has to do with domestic politics, after
a series of debates between the Republican presidential hopefuls that
has put Iran at the top of the country´s foreign affairs agenda.
When the Republican candidates compete with one another on scaring
Iran, the president has to step up the rhetoric, too. He understands
that if a nuclear Iran comes into being, it will be forever
remembered as the failure of his administration, on his watch. (©
Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/12/12)
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