February 20, 2007

Throw Down


From FOX News: Ahmadinejad: Iran Will Stop Nuke Enrichment If You Will, Too.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that Iran would only halt its uranium enrichment program and return to negotiations if other Western nations do the same.

Ahmadinejad told a crowd of thousands in northern Iran one day ahead of a U.N. Security Council deadline that it was no problem for his country to stop, but that "fair talks" demanded a similar gesture from the West.

"That ... we shut down our nuclear fuel cycle program to let talks begin. It's no problem. But justice demands that those who want to hold talks with us shut down their nuclear fuel cycle program too. Then, we can hold dialogue under a fair atmosphere," Ahmadinejad said.

The Security Council has set Wednesday as a deadline for Iran to stop uranium enrichment or face further economic sanctions.

Ahmadinejad spoke in a far more conciliatory tone than the one he usually adopts, avoiding fiery denunciations of the West with a call for talks.

UPDATE -- Feb. 22: From FOX News: Iran Refuses to Budge On U.N. Security Council Demands.

With the stage being set for a fresh showdown between Iran and Western powers, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the U.S. and its allies would use the U.N. Security Council and other "available channels" to bring Tehran back to negotiations over its nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency was expected to report Thursday that Iran has expanded uranium enrichment efforts instead of meeting international demands to halt them. The finding could lead to Security Council sanctions broader than a limited set imposed by the council last month.

In addition to the sanctions, the Bush administration has been raising the pressure on Tehran on other fronts, from arresting Iranian officials in Iraq to persuading European governments and financial institutions to cut ties with the Islamic Republic.

Posted by Forkum at February 20, 2007 05:06 PM