The Obama administration is looking for new ways to deal with Iran and its nuclear program, even though it has been revealed that the Islamic Republic now has enough low-enriched uranium (more than 1,000 kilograms of the stuff) to make at least one nuclear bomb. The new U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice (no relationship to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) was reported as saying that the U.S. Administration will make all diplomatic efforts to encourage Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program and become a regional “team player” who is no longer a sponsor of terrorism. Rice, who served as Under-Secretary of State during the Clinton Administration, said that she hopes to help convince Iran to “abandon its illicit nuclear program and become a regional actor”, along with Syria (another sponsor of terrorism) to help lesson tensions in the Middle East.
Obama wants to open a dialogue with both countries, and said in his inaugural address that America is willing to “extend a hand to those willing to unclench their fist”. Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, said that America’s allegations towards Iran are “completely groundless” and that his country does not sponsor international terrorism and “has no intention of developing nuclear weapons”. Along with Khazaee’s remarks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran will welcome talks with America and other western countries as long as they are conducted in a framework of openness and mutual respect.
President Obama’s willingness to open talks with a country that has been an enemy of America since the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970’s is a bit contradictory to that of previous administrations; especially that of the Bush Administration, when Iran was considered to be part of an “Axis of Evil”. The Bush stance resulted in virtually no official contact between the two nations. Iranian Ambassador Khazaee further remarked that “Iran has always condemned terrorism in all its aspects”, possibly referring to his country’s version of whom and what terrorists actually are; usually in reference to countries like Israel.
It may yet be awhile before Obama extends an actual invitation to Iranian president Ahmadinejad to come to Washington on a formal visit; but it does look like some sort of meetings will take place between representatives of the two nations, most likely in a neutral location like Geneva or Paris.
Talk is cheap though, and as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words. After all, the Japanese ambassador was in Washington for talks in 1941 when his country attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, ushering in America’s involvement in WWII. Iran’s animosity towards both the U.S. and especially towards Israel needs to change dramatically before any progress can be made towards improving relations between Iran and the West.