April 13th, 2009
10:52 AM ET

What Iran really thinks about talks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/02/10/obama.iran/art.iran.ahmadinejad.speech.rally.afp.gi.jpg caption="Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a Tehran rally for the Islamic revolution's 30th anniversary in February."]
Michael Rubin
The Wall Street Journal

On Apr. 9, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, announced that the Islamic Republic had installed 7,000 centrifuges in its Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The announcement came one day after the U.S. State Department announced it would engage Iran directly in multilateral nuclear talks.

Proponents of engagement with Tehran say dialogue provides the only way forward. Iran's progress over the past eight years, they say, is a testament to the failure of Bush administration strategy. President Barack Obama, for example, in his Mar. 21 address to the Iranian government and people, declared that diplomacy "will not be advanced by threats. We seek engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect."

Thus our president fulfills a pattern in which new administrations place blame for the failure of diplomacy on predecessors rather than on adversaries. The Islamic Republic is not a passive actor, however. Quite the opposite: While President Obama plays checkers, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei plays chess. The enrichment milestone is a testament both to Tehran's pro-active strategy and to Washington's refusal to recognize it.


Filed under: Iran • President Barack Obama
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Iran would like nothing better than for us to spin our wheels in discussion while they have thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium. Obama's lack of expeience is dangerous in the extreme. We were literally talking to the Japanese peace envoys while their bombers were smashing Pearl Harbor. There is a time for talk, and a time for action. Let's hope Israel acts while we are putzing around.

    April 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  2. Mike in NYC

    "While President Obama plays checkers, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei plays chess."

    Bush was a checker player too.

    American leaders are being outclassed these days, to say the least.

    Rubin acknowledges that Iranian domestic support for its nuclear program crosses political lines. This is no surprise considering the double standards being applied here. Israel's nuclear arsenal not only targets its regional enemies, but also European nations who have assisted it in the development of its nuclear program (Britain, France, Germany). Yet the Iranians are the reason we're told a European missile shield is needed.

    April 13, 2009 at 11:38 am |