Belmont Club

No fear any more

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to have rejected Washington’s offer of direct talks as well as the “freeze-for-freeze” proposals put forward by the International Community aimed at getting Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons. “The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by the Washington Post as saying, adding he had his own ideas about how to proceed. He challenged Obama to a debate in the United Nations. The Obama administration had offered to hold direct talks with Teheran and Western diplomats offered

a so-called “freeze-for-freeze” proposal first put forward last year under which Iran would freeze expansion of its nuclear program in return for the U.N. Security Council halting further sanctions against Tehran. … Western diplomats say the proposal remains on the table. Ahmadinejad last month said Iran had prepared its own package of proposals to end the stalemate. … Asked about North Korea’s nuclear test on Monday, Ahmadinejad said: “In principle we oppose the production, expansion and the use of weapons of mass destruction.” He said Iran had no missile or nuclear cooperation with North Korea.

In other developments, the Israeli Defense Minister was heading to Washington to discuss “Iran’s nuclear ambitions”.

The defence minister was also planning to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama’s National Security Adviser James Jones and special Middle East envoy George Mitchell, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Barak’s visit comes on the heels of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s White House meeting with President Barack Obama last week, which revealed discord between the two close allies on the stagnant Middle East peace process.

However, Obama eased Israeli concerns over his efforts to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear programme in direct negotiations, with the president saying the success of the dialogue would be assessed by the year’s end.

“This dialogue ought to be short and should have milestones to check whether it is serious or not,” Barak told army radio. “I believe the chances that talks will halt Iran’s nuclear programme are very low.”

The former chief of staff reiterated that the Jewish state would not rule out military action against nuclear sites in the Islamic republic.

Saul Alinsky taught his disciples that authority figures could survive anything except public ridicule. Once people began to laugh at you, things were heading downhill. The recent actions and rhetoric from North Korea and Iran openly mock the Obama administration. Ahmadinejad was dismissive of Obama’s offer of direct negotiations and has challenged the US President to appear in a freakshow debate of his own device before the UN. If the news reports of Ehud Barak’s remarks are accurate, then even the Israeli Defense Minister, who would ordinarily be diplomatically correct and deferential towards an American President is practically characterizing his trip to Washington as a waste of time. Is President Obama, the sweep of whose hands it was once believed could silence the world, in danger of becoming an object of derision? He is in any event, in the middle of the challenge which Joe Biden predicted he would face.


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