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New Direction Needed in Negotiations with Iran

January 29, 2008

Despite a recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003, President Bush continues to present a bellicose attitude toward Iran. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) believe that the time is ripe for a policy of direct diplomacy with Iran, a position also called for in the bipartisan Iraq Study Group’s 2006 report. President Bush’s State of the Union speech affirms that this administration will continue to pursue hostile policies which build tension in the U.S.-Iranian relationship and increase the threat of war. 

President Bush separated his message to the Iranian people from his message to the Iranian regime, which suggests his preference for regime change.  He then reiterated his position that “America will confront” Iran if it threatens American troops or our vital interests (like oil) in the region.  This hostility has led to deterioration in the U.S.-Iranian relationship and makes direct diplomatic efforts more difficult.
 
President Bush also demanded that Iran freeze work on its nuclear enrichment program so that negotiations can start. As a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is legally allowed to develop technology for nuclear power. Furthermore, Iran would never give up its main bargaining chip before negotiations begin.
 
Direct, unconditional negotiations could convince Iran to accept aggressive inspections to verify its program’s non-military nature. Such negotiations also would ease tensions between Iran and the United States since dialogue builds confidence and understanding. Additionally, negotiations could provide Iran with trade incentives, further integrating the nation into international community and creating more contact that can help to build stability in the region.

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