New Secretary of State John Kerry is offering the Iranian government the opportunity to hold bilateral talks directly with Washington. This is a strong departure from former multi-nation talks that usually involved the Permanent U.N. Security Council Members plus Germany (P5+1). At the same time, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a statement this week indicating that Iran continues to violate the terms of existing U.N. Security Resolutions in their attempts at enriching uranium to the point that it may be used for military purposes.
Iran has yet to take the U.S. up on the bilateral offer, but they have recently been engaging in wider talks involving the P5+1. Despite this, the IAEA statement indicates that Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment up to 20% and past, refused to suspend work on heavy water related projects, and has not honored requests for access to certain areas in the Parchin nuclear site.
Iran’s nuclear program began with peaceful aspirations in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and ratified it. The U.S. then worked with Iran on a civilian nuclear program over the next 10 years. The 1979 Iranian resolution put a freeze on the cooperative efforts, but it was not until 2002 that the U.S. first accused Iran of attempting to make nuclear weapons. Since then, there have been eight U.N. Security Resolutions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear proliferation efforts, the most recent of which being passed in 2012.
As far as military options, most Americans support the idea. A PEW research study found that 80% of U.S. citizens which opposed Iran getting a nuclear weapon also approved of a military option. This was also found in 79% of those in the U.K., 74% of those in France, and 80% of those in Germany, but only 46% of Russians and 38% of Chinese. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously drew his red line indicating the point where Iran can no longer be stopped from getting the bomb. As this point draws nearer, the current round of negotiations becomes all the more significant.
Fox News, U.S. Accuses Iran of ‘Deception and Delay’ With Nuclear Program: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/03/06/us-accuses-iran-deception-and-delay-with-nuclear-program/
Reuters, U.S. Warns Iran of More “Isolation” in Nuclear Dispute: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/06/us-iran-nuclear-usa-idUSBRE9250FV20130306
Reuters, Iran Declares Day of Mourning for Anti-U.S. Ally Chavez: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/06/us-venezuela-chavez-iran-idUSBRE9250CQ20130306
ABC News, John Kerry Concedes Iran Is Moving Closer to Possessing Nuclear Weapon: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Politics/john-kerry-concedes-iran-moving-closer-possessing-nuclear/story?id=18655927
CBS News, Iran “Running the Clock” on Nuclear Talks, Kerry Says: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57572619/iran-running-the-clock-on-nuclear-talks-kerry-says/
The Cable Foreign Policy, Kerry: Iran has an “Elected” Government: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/02/27/kerry_iran_has_an_elected_government
Reuters, Kerry Says Iran Talks Useful, Hopes Tehran Will Engage: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/27/us-iran-nuclear-talks-kerry-idUSBRE91Q0NE20130227