The Time for Diplomacy Is… When?

From Holden:

Despite Condi’s concilliatory opening statement during her confirmation hearing earlier this month, the Bush administration is dead set against using diplomatic means to solve any percieved problems with Iran.

The United States has rebuffed pleas to join a European diplomatic drive to persuade Iran to give up any ambitions to add nuclear bombs to its arsenal, U.S. officials and foreign diplomats say.

For months, Britain, France and Germany have hoped to improve their bargaining power with the Islamic republic by involving Washington in a proposed accord over an end to its uranium enrichment activities.

That effort has intensified since President Bush (news – web sites)’s re-election in November, culminating last week with ministerial visits to Condoleezza Rice (news – web sites) days before she took up her new post as secretary of state, they said.

So far, the Americans show no sign of giving ground.

“It’s what they (the Europeans) have always wanted to do,” a senior Bush administration official said. “(British Foreign Secretary) Jack (Straw) came over hoping Condi would change our policy and she didn’t.”

A senior State Department official said Straw, who visited on Monday, one day before Germany’s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer came on a similar mission, outlined European hopes for the negotiations.


“The administration is pleased with its policy and sees no reason to change,” said Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has close ties to Iran’s arch-foe Israel.

The stance was a “gamble” that Iran’s hard-line rulers would be overthrown before they acquired a bomb, he said.

On Sunday, Rice told CBS’ Face the Nation: “We really do believe … that this is something that can be dealt with diplomatically. What is needed is unity of purpose, unity of message to the Iranians, that we will not allow them to skirt their international obligations and develop nuclear weapons under cover of civilian nuclear power.”

Her remarks came after the president refused to rule out a military strike and his hard-line vice president said Iran was top of the world’s trouble spots and warned the region’s biggest U.S. ally, Israel, could hit its facilities.