The Fine Print on Direct Talks

NYT, 5/29/06
“To avert sanctions, Iran has hinted at readiness to limit the number of centrifuge machines producing enriched uranium….
“Diplomats…say that Iranian engineers stopped pouring a raw form of uranium, called UF6, into arrays of centrifuges after just 12 days….the Iranians kept the empty centrifuges spinning, as is standard practice because slowing the delicate machines can cause them to wobble and crash….
“[S]aid a senior European diplomat who monitors the Iranian program,…’They could probably have gone faster. But they don’t want to provoke.”
“But they also do not want to stop, and that is the crux of the standoff…
“Meanwhile, President Bush and his advisers have maintained that no negotiations can resume between Europe and Iran ‘while one centrifuge spins’ in the country.”
From Secretary Rice’s Press Conference
“But let’s remember what is not happening here. This is not a bilateral negotiation between the United States and Iran on the whole host of issues that would lead to broader relations between Iran and the United States.”
“By the way, we have done this with regimes with which we have serious problems. We have been doing it with the North Korean regime also in a multilateral setting.”
“QUESTION… [A]re you also saying that the U.S. is not going to actively try to undercut, overthrow, undermine the Iranian Government.
“SECRETARY RICE: We have been very clear and nobody is confused about the nature of this Iranian regime. We know precisely about the nature of this Iranian regime….Nobody is confused about the nature of this regime….
What’s being provided legitimacy here is the negotiating process to which we have long been committed.”
“[W]e have not been asked about security assurances and I don’t expect that we will be.”



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