Latest ArticlesArchivesForumsRSS FeedGuestbookContact UsSearch

Iran Press Service (logo)

As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

Appeasement Yesterday and Appeasement Today

Published Thursday, December 27, 2007

London (Asharq Alawsat ) Until a few days ago, Iran's nuclear ambitions appeared destined to become the hottest issue in the current American presidential campaign. A consensus, cutting across partisan divides, appeared to be taking shape that the Islamic Republic should be confronted forcefully, contained, and in time, forced to scale down its ambitions.

However, with the publication of the new American National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) claiming that Tehran had stopped the military aspect of its nuclear programme in 2003, most presidential candidates find it hard to sustain a tough position on the Islamic Republic.

This new wave of negotiationism, to coin a phrase, is based on a mixture of false assumptions and bad faith.

This has enabled the usual suspects of appeasement to return from the woodworks to urge "a negotiated settlement."

In the past few days, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has broken her silence to call for negotiations with Tehran. One wonders why the administration to which she belonged failed to secure any concessions from Tehran through negotiations.

We have also had former United Nations' Secretary General Kofi Annan coming out of the purdah to call for negotiations.

In this, Annan has echoed former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Bzrezinski, who has called for a "grand bargain" with the Islamic Republic.

This new wave of negotiationism, to coin a phrase, is based on a mixture of false assumptions and bad faith.

The first false assumption is that the new NIE proves that the Islamic Republic has stopped the military aspect of its nuclear programme once and for all. The NIE, however, makes no such claim. All that it claims is that the Islamic Republic stopped its programme in 2003. Whether the programme was revived after that date is not a topic that the new NIE tackles.

The only visible sign of the decision to stop the programme was the suspension of uranium enrichment. That decision was reversed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad soon after he was sworn in, and uranium enrichment was resumed at a faster pace.

In other words, even if we accept the NIE's claim that the programme was stopped in 2003, something that we have no reason to do, there is no evidence that it has not been resumed.

There is, in fact, quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.

Troika ministers
Foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany started talks with Iran years ago, but got noway.

As already noted, the uranium enrichment project has been resumed and continues at much faster pace.

•According to official estimates in Tehran, allocations for the nuclear programme have risen by almost 40 per cent.

•The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that all of Iran's known nuclear sites remain in full operation.

•The IAEA also reports that it has no access to a number of other industrial sites in Iran that may well be linked to the nuclear programme. In other words, we know what we don't know but don't know what we don't know.

The negotiationists forget that the EU3, Britain, Germany and France have been negotiating with the Islamic Republic on this issue for almost a decade. During his term as British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw visited Tehran more than any other capital outside Europe. Javier Solana, the EU's chief foreign policy official, has spent more time talking to envoys from Tehran than diplomats from any other nation. Tehran has also been engaged in negotiations with the five permanent members of the United Nations' Security Council plus Germany.

Not only do they ignore the history of negotiations with Tehran, the appeasers also refuse to state clearly what it is that should be negotiated. In other words, they put process in place of policy. Talking about what to do becomes a substitute for doing what needs to be done.

The Islamic Republic, of course, would love to talk to anybody for as long as it is not required to do anything it does not wish to do.

In the 1990s we termed the technique "the Shamir method" after the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhakh Shamir. Forced by the first Bush administration to enter peace talks with the Arabs, Shamir discovered one of the quirks of Western democracies: their pathological faith in negotiations. Western public opinion admires those who negotiate even though the process may lead to nothing tangible.

Thus perceived, negotiations become a fascinating game, both to play and to watch.

The Islamic Republic, of course, would love to talk to anybody for as long as it is not required to do anything it does not wish to do.

You have talks about talks before proceeding to establish an agenda. Once this is roughly done, you would still need weeks, if not months and years, of negotiating which item should be tackled in what order. At times, the negotiations break down. So, you will have to negotiate about resuming them. To do that you would need a "road map", taking you from the point of breakdown to that of resumption. Needless to say you would need intermediaries, practicing their talent at "shuttle diplomacy." If things get out of control and you are forced to show something tangible, you might have to attach your initials to an interim agreement. This could be a long and vague document designed to obfuscate rather than clarify, a method of drowning the fish in water. To get cheers from the party of appeasement, you might have to make "goodwill gestures", a technique for dancing around the issue. This is like a bikini that leaves everything bare except the parts that voyeurs are keen to ogle.

The negotiationists do not say what it is that one should negotiate with President Ahmadinejad.

More than four years ago, the IAEA discovered that the Islamic Republic had been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for almost 18 years. Such a violation should have led to sanctions spelled out in the NPT itself. Instead, the IAEA decided to "negotiate" to prevent future violations. When those negotiations failed, the matter was taken to the UN Security Council which passed two resolutions demanding that the Islamic Republic stop uranium enrichment.

The Islamic Republic has ignored those resolutions and repeatedly stated that it would never abide by their key demand. In other words, the Islamic Republic is ready to negotiate, in fact would love to negotiate, provided the talks are about everything except the one thing that could be the object of credible negotiations.

The appeasers are indirectly calling on the UN Security Council to drop its one demand and enter into "unconditional negotiations" with the Islamic Republic. This means surrendering to Tehran and may or may not be a good option.

In that case the appeasers should shed their lexicon of obfuscation and admit that they are recommending unconditional surrender to the Islamic Republic.

Once they do that, they may have an even stronger point. They would be able to say that, since the major democracies have no stomach for a fight with a power, described by Mrs. Albright as " rogue regime" before her conversion to appeasement, it is better to surrender to it in the hope that it moderates its radical temperament.

Today's appeasers, however, appear to be less courageous or more disingenuous than their predecessors in the late 1930s. This is why they are giving appeasement a bad name while increasing the possibility of war by confirming Ahmadinejad's illusion that he can do whatever he likes without risking the survival of his regime. ENDS NIE IRAN 271207
Editor’s note: Mr. Amir Taheri is an Iranian journalist, commentator, political analyst and writer, covering for many international media, including the London-based, pan-Arab newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat, which posted this commentary on 14 December 2007
Highlights are by IPS



3 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Kim Costy
Sunday, December 30, 2007 05:09 [ 1 ]

Any Iranian who read this passage has the responsibility to pass this info to all Iranian People around the world.

The Master plan is to turn Pakistan to a Taliban State, then confront it with Iran and destroy Iran by means of nuclear weopen.

Please Please Iranian Opposition, put your diffrencess aside and unite to remove this government.

I appeal to you, are you listening?

Sunday, January 6, 2008 22:04 [ 2 ]

Excellent article! Because we are dealing with a monster (Ahmadinejad) and others, negotiating/diplomacy don't always work. The U.S. and other squeemish nations tend to think this is always the answer. As all can read from this article, it goes deeper than that. There has to be a point where enough is enough. The more time we give for these "talks" the worse off we will be

Sam Dean
Friday, January 11, 2008 10:19 [ 3 ]

This article could to be named Israel’s Manifesto about Iran. Mr. Taheri parrots what we have heard constantly from Israeli politicians such as Netanyahu, Olmert, Ariel Sharon, and many of Israel’s agents in the US government and many in the west. The Israelis and their agents in the western media “including Mr. Taheri” have been manufacturing facts, and reproducing stories about Iran’s Nuclear weapons since early 1990s. We have heard stories about Iran acquiring loose bombs from former USSR according to constant propaganda by Israeli intelligence “not so- intelligence after all” that Iran should have the bomb by 1995, then by 1998 then the projected time shifted to 2002, then to 2005 and now it’s 2008 according to Israelis. This same Intelligence apparatus “Mosad” failed so miserably to detect fairly large Anti-ship missiles transferred to Hezbollah only few miles away from Israel’s northern borders. The same weapon disabled a highly sophisticated Israeli navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea during Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanon.

Maybe Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons can and would make the region safe and more secure, and may also bring about a balance of power that could enhance the chances for stability and lasting peace in the region. Moreover, nuclear armed Iran can no longer be pushed around by USA and its proxies in the region.

The idea of coercing “forcing” Iran to abandon nuclear technology seems naïve, and unpractical. If the notion of so-called “forcing” Iran requires an all out war, then Iran will end up as a nuclear power since that’s the essence of Iran’s aim; to have the ultimate deterrence against Israel and it’s protector USA.

The idea of a Grand bargain or treaty floated around since early 1980s. Mr. Bzrezinski knows quite well, the colossal damage a protracted war with can cause USA and the west in general. So, why not ignore Israel’s self-serving harangue for the benefit of human kind. Why not explore “sincerely and seriously” the so-called grand bargain. WE have followed Israel for the past two decades demonizing Iran, it’s about time that we engage the Iranians without phony precondition, and put an end to this impasse, a condition that could lead to tragic consequences for all.

Comments on this page are closed.

As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

Iranian nuclear installation
An american report by secret intelligence agencies say Iran has stopped nuclear activities for military purposes on 2003.

Powered by the Big Medium content management system. sitemap xml