Rice’s Offer to Iran Is No Breakthrough

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The press is heralding Condoleezza Rice’s offer of direct talks with Iran as a signal of a new, more moderate, US approach to the standoff between the two nations, but there is little in her words to suggest any real change in Bush administration policy. What Rice actually said was: “[A]s soon as Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities, the United States will come to the table.”

The Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottak on state television responded by saying that Iran “will not give up our nation’s natural right [to enrichment], we will not hold talks over it. But we are ready to hold talks over mutual concerns.” The BBC reports he also said, that if the US “is interested in any change in the existing situation, it should change its behaviour and behave properly and logically”.

In the United States, Rice’s statement has been hyped as a major new overture to Iran. Bush said, “I believe this problem can be solved diplomatically and I’m going to give it every effort to do so.”

Yet at the same time, the US is readying a set of tough demands, including sanctions that would affect the world oil markets It hopes Europe will embrace these sanctions in future dealings with Iran if the latter doesn’t abandon its plans for nuclear development.

Iran says it wants nuclear energy for power. The US says it wants to make bombs. The standard neo-conservative line on Iran has not changed. It argues there must be regime change, forced by military intervention if need be. According to this view, diplomacy is little more than a PR maneuver to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we have tried as hard as we could to negotiate with Iran, but failed. The same approach, of course, was used in the run-up to the Iraq war.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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