I noted back in July at the beginning of the Hezbollah-Israel conflict that Iran would come out stronger in the end, and use the war as pretext to reject the UN demands that Iran freeze its nuclear program. (Middle East Play of the Year)
Well, Iran has rejected the freeze. The rationale is not yet official, so I cannot say whether or not the war in Lebanon is being used as any sort of justification, but we do know that Iran has been emboldened by Israel's failure to achieve the crippling of Hezbollah.
And, as usual, Bush has backed himself into a corner. Iran will not freeze its nuclear program until there are negotiations. Bush won't negotiate until Iran freezes its program. The longer that Iran can drag this out, the better position they will be in. If Bush negotiates now, Iran wins because they are see as negotiating from a winning position. If Bush refuses to negotiate, Iran wins because it is Bush who is delaying negotiations, not Iran, and Iran continues its program.
The constant problem with Bush's foreign policy is that while everyone else is playing a game of high stakes poker, Bush is playing the "wheel of fortune." In the end, we will always loose... At least with poker, you can bluff, bet, and play your cards with strategy. Every hand has the potential to be a winning hand...
Iran Reportedly Rejects Demands to Halt Nuclear Efforts
By Fred Barbash and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 22, 2006; 10:56 AM
Iran's semi-official news agency reported today that Tehran has "rejected suspension of its nuclear activities" as demanded by the United Nations Security Council but has proposed a "new formula for resolving the issue through talks."
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator delivered Tehran's response to the ambassadors of Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Switzerland and was briefing them on the substance, reported Iran's Fars news agency.
Diplomats in Washington, Tehran and European capitals had said yesterday that the Iranian government is willing to enter negotiations and to consider a freeze of the program, but it will not accept a freeze as a precondition for the talks.
Earlier this month, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution giving Iran 30 days to stop the program or face the threat of sanctions. U.S. officials have said they would push for strong financial sanctions against the Tehran government if it does not cooperate and that they expect support from Europe.
The Iranian position is nearly identical to its initial reaction to the offer, which was presented in June and includes a package of U.S.-backed economic and political incentives. U.S., British and French diplomats concluded yesterday, after receiving word of Iran's intention, that the government simply bought time to advance its nuclear program, rather than scale it back as the U.N. resolution requires.