News

Experts Urge Direct US-Iranian Talks to Resolve Nuclear Issue

Iran has once again rejected cooperation with the United Nations in curtailing its nuclear weapons ambitions. Some experts are calling for direct U.S.-Iranian talks to resolve the issue.

The confrontation between many Western nations and Iran is heating up as Tehran continues to defy the international community by enriching uranium - a process that can be used either for civilian or military purposes.

Iranian officials have said for years their program is meant only for peaceful goals, such as producing electricity. But the United States and Europe believe Tehran's ambitions are ultimately to build nuclear weapons.

Experts say now that Tehran has refused to stop its enrichment program, as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, the international community must look at measures to force Iran to comply with U.N. demands. One solution would be to impose sanctions, though Russia and China are against such measures.

Others have advocated a military attack on Iran. Bush administration officials have stated 'all options are on the table,' meaning a military strike has not been ruled out. But at the same time, they have stressed diplomacy is the way forward.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns repeated that message during a recent State Department briefing.

"We are devoted and dedicated to making the Security Council process effective," he said.  "We are putting an enormous amount of energy and a lot of resources into thinking through how the Security Council can be effective. So we haven't given up on diplomacy. We have not given up on the Security Council and the largest part of our effort will be through the Security Council."

However a number of foreign policy experts have said the best way to address Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions would be through direct talks between Washington and Tehran. One of those experts is Joseph Cirincione, from the Council on Foreign Relations.

"We have diplomacy. We can negotiate," he said.  "The United States is not even talking to Iran yet. Why not? Why aren't we negotiating with Iran? We negotiated with Libya. We're negotiating with North Korea. We negotiated with Stalin and Mao.  Why aren't we talking with Iran?"

Last month there was an agreement to begin discussions between Washington and Tehran restricted only to Iraqi-related issues. Iran has close ties to some members of the Shiaa community in Iraq.

But U.S. officials have said those talks have been delayed pending the formation of a new Iraqi government. And Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says now that there is a new Iraqi Prime Minister, there is no need for direct U.S.-Iranian talks.

However Ted Carpenter, foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says Mr. Ahmadinejad does not speak for the entire Iranian leadership.

"We have to understand that in Iran, the president basically controls the cabinet and not much more than that," said Mr. Carpenter.  "The real power lies with the senior mullahs. Many of them appear to be far more interested in talking to the United States than Ahmadinejad is."

Carpenter says if the talks take place, the United States should not just focus on Iran's role in Iraq. They should be expanded to include nuclear issues - and he says Washington should offer Iran what he calls 'a grand bargain.'

"It would be a proposal to normalize diplomatic relations with Iran, to end all economic sanctions and normalize economic relations in exchange for an agreement whereby Iran would allow comprehensive, on demand, international inspections of its nuclear program to make sure that, while Iran might build a peaceful nuclear power program, it would not be able to divert fissile material to a weapons program," he added.

Carpenter says such a deal would benefit both parties and would resolve the dispute without the danger of military action.

Charles Kupchan, former National Security Council member in the first Clinton administration, says face-to-face talks raise some important questions.

"Would a direct American dialogue with Tehran accord the regime and the country the sort of respect that they are seeking and make them more compliant? Or would it, on the other hand, make them feel like they are making progress and therefore dig in their heels? It's a debate that is taking place within the foreign policy community today," he explained.  "And it is also something that is probably being discussed across the Atlantic where the Europeans may be encouraging the United States to get more involved."

For the time being, President Bush says one-on-one talks could present problems and he favors a multi-national approach.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs