There’s a great deal of huffing and puffing about the suspension of talks between Iran and the P5+1, the international bloc of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The talks, which began Thursday in Istanbul, Turkey, ended Saturday with no accord, and no further meetings were set.
Various hardliners, hawks and neoconservatives around the world are, predictably, saying that talking with Iran is hopeless and that only pressure, sanctions, and eventually military force will stop Iran from getting a bomb. Take, for instance, the hawkish Australian, whose editorial said: "Diplomacy looks to be at a dangerous dead end in Iran after the failure of the latest talks in Istanbul between Tehran’s negotiators and the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the US and Germany. Iranian obstinacy meant the meeting in Istanbul was over in a day. There was no give, no attempt at compromise, and there are now no plans for further talks on Iran’s nuclear program."
The Daily Telegraph found one US official who warned ominously of the need to take out "the stick" in the form of military threats, and the French foreign minister, another hawk, is talking about imposing yet stronger economic sanctions on Iran.
In fact, the situation is not bleak. Not only will the talks resume again, and probably soon, but the reports that the talks were useless or counterproductive are simply wrong. In fact, despite the breakdown of the negotiations, President Ahmadinejad of Iran said on Sunday that they’ll be back. According to The Daily Star, of Beirut, "Iran hopes to resume talks with world powers on its nuclear program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday, a day after discussions ended in stalemate with no clear agreement to meet again. ‘If the other party is determined and committed to law, justice and respect, there is hope that in the next sessions good results would be achieved,’ Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech to a crowd in the city of Rasht."
The talks began with Iran proposing what Saeed Jalili, their erudite negotiator, called "prerequisites," and the P5+1 called "preconditions," namely that the P5+1 recognize Iran’s right under the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to enrich uranium and that the economic sanctions be lifted immediately. None of the P5+1 powers were likely to respond positively to that idea—at least, not yet, not without some Iranian concessions—and so the talks stalled. The Moscow Times reported: "During the summit in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday, Iran pushed demands that it must have known were unacceptable to the six—a lifting of sanctions and acceptance of its enrichment program before any further discussion of its nuclear activities."