Friday, June 02, 2006

The World Cup and Nuclear Negotiations

It would be a far fetching idea but not impossible. President Ahmadineghad had already announced that Iran would accept any talk offer, without pre-conditioning stopping enrichment efforts. That was exactly what Secretary Rice asked for, when she announced United States willingness to participate in negotiations with Iran for the first time. Although some may elaborate that diplomacy would fail for this reason, the writer would rather think otherwise.

European countries have asked Iran to stop her enrichment program several times in the past. Iran’s rejection of such condition is neither new nor unaccepted. However in the past Iran had suspended her activities in this regard willingly. It seems that currently Iran is willing to hear what is in the bag before stopping such program, then move to halt enrichment program for some sensible technical reason. One also must appreciate President Ahmadineghad’s domestic difficulties. Halting enrichment certainly initiates an “I told you so” campaign by reformers and his government would be in danger of losing face. A strong opposition from ultra radical rank and file also is plausible.

The far fetching idea is the coincidence of the World Cup and such negotiations, Iranian government might use this opportunity to stop enrichment without stirring public opinion, who will be preoccupied with the World Cup and Iran’s performance. This way government would avoid criticism from both reformers and ultra radical camp and benefit from the calm of the next few weeks to take large steps toward reconciliation.

It might be too optimistic to be true, but there is indeed an opportunity to reach a solution. I for one pray everyone benefits from it for the cause of peace and prosperity.

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