U.S. re-shapes its policy toward Iran
The Obama administration met with European allies to reassess their policy towards Iran
The Obama administration, along with its European allies, are reassessing their policy towards Iran, which calls for Iran to shutdown its nuclear program, according to officials within the administration.
In confidential strategy sessions, officials discussed how they would pressure Iran to open its nuclear facilities for inspections.
However, unlike its previous policy, they would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium for a small period of time during the talks. This significant change in strategy is a break away from President George W. Bush administration's policy towards Iran, which was to have Iran stop its uranium enrichment completely before setting up diplomatic talks.
The proposals to change strategy are beyond what President Obama originally promised during his presidential campaign. During his campaign, Obama said that he would be willing to have open talks with Iran without preconditions.
A review of U.S policy towards Iran is still being reviewed by President Obama, and his aides say that it is unclear how long Obama would let Iran to continue enriching uranium.
However, European officials say that during Obama's visit that they all agreed Iran would never shutdown its nuclear program immediately.
Although administration officials discuss details of the confidential strategy sessions, any new U.S. policy would ultimately require Iran to stop enrichment as decided in United Nations Security Council resolutions.
If the U.S. and its allies allow Iran to continue enriching uranium, the policy would eventually have opposition in the U.S., from conservatives and the new right-wing Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If Obama agrees to the new negotiating approach, the U.S. and its European allies would start sessions with Iran and press it to suspend its nuclear program, starting with allowing I.A.E.A. inspectors to the sites.
The first site is located in downtown Tehran, where Iran is producing next-generation centrifuges, which are going to be installed in an underground plant in Natanz.
The director general of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview that the Obama administration has not consulted him about the new strategy , or about how I.A.E.A. inspectors would be part of the strategy. ElBaradei said that the Bush administration's approach was not practical and that pressuring the Iranians to stop its uranium enrichment was a "ridiculous" approach.
By contrast, ElBaradei said that Obama's administration has accepted the fact that Iran has already built 5,500 centrifuges and that the U.S. must create a new policy that is "sensitive" to Iran's policy.