On Saturday the P5+1 countries (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany) met with Iran in Istanbul for what is being called a “first round” of nuclear talks. By all accounts, it was a “round” with little or no substance—except one major result: the parties agreed to reconvene for another “round” in Baghdad in another five weeks, on May 23.
No one seriously concerned about Iran’s ongoing enrichment of uranium, its ongoing transfer of centrifuges to its deep-underground Fordo site, its ongoing work on nuclear-weapons development, could be pleased with this result. As Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu put it bluntly: “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie. It’s got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.”
Some, though, were indeed happy with the meeting’s outcome.
One was EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton—who not long ago made waves when she reacted to the Toulouse terror by equating the Israeli army with mass murderers. Ashton called Saturday’s talks “constructive and useful” and rhapsodized: “We expect that subsequent meetings will lead to concrete steps toward a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.”
And another party that reacted with great satisfaction was the Iranians themselves. Their chief negotiator Saeed Jalili exulted that the talks were a “positive sign” compared with “the language of threats and pressure that do not work on the Iranian people.”
And AFP reported on Sunday that “Iran’s media, including outlets close to the leadership…hailed renewed talks with world powers as positive[.]” The government-run, English-language Iran Daily trumpeted on its front page: “EU Reaffirms Tehran’s Nuclear Rights.” The newspaper Jomhuri Eslami said the key to progress “is that America give up its political games and surrender to the realities”—that is, of Iran’s ongoing march toward the bomb.
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