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American Iranian Council Urges the Obama Administration to Engage Iran Now, September 14, 2009 


The American Iranian Council believes that the Obama Administration should continue to offer "direct talks" to Iran and that Secretary Clinton is right when she says "the time is now." Making time of the essence is the right approach to dealing with US-Iran relations.

It is unfortunate that certain Iranian-American organizations and personalities (NOT leaders of the Green Movement) have called for Iran's "diplomatic isolation" and a stop to US-Iran engagement. This misleading advice will disserve all parties involved in the US-Iran dispute.

The argument that engaging Iran now would stifle the Iranian democratic movement and that it "legitimizes" President Ahmadinejad is also misplaced. Indeed, the argument is anti-American as it suggests better relations with the United States might strengthen dictatorship rather than democracy.

The assumption that the Iranian government is not in a position to negotiate or deliver on its commitments, if it were to make any, is also wrong. Despite the ongoing political turmoil, the regime in Tehran remains stable in the medium-term and the Supreme Leader is still in charge.

Stop-and-go proposals also disregard the time-sensitive nature of U.S.-Iran disagreements over uranium enrichment. It can also mean an indefinite halt to U.S.-Iran talks as the Iranian political situation will not "normalize" for the foreseeable future.

To convince Israel and its allies to stay with President Obama's diplomatic approach, it is important that no time is wasted in engaging Iran. Israel has called for a deadline in resolving concerns over Iran's nuclear capabilities and has threatened military action.

We believe the nuclear issue is making the "neither-war nor-peace" status quo between Iran and the United States rapidly obsolete. The parties will soon have to face a serious choice between accommodation or confrontation. Negotiation is the only hope for peace!

Iran’s lack of appetite for constructive dialogue with the United States made the U.S. Senate pass a resolution in July that penalizes gasoline suppliers to Iran. At this point President Obama would be ill-advised to authorize a ban on sales of refined oil products to Iran.

The American Iranian Council urges the United States to stay with its engagement policy for now. Through a new Obama Speech, the President should demand immediate direct talks and eliminate Iran's windfall position of “neither-war nor-peace,” leaving only reconciliation or conflict on the table.

The Council also calls on Iran to submit its proposal to the 5+1 Group no later than the UN General Assembly meetings this September. To achieve a win-win settlement, Iran must urgently declare its readiness for constructive engagement with the United States. We believe there is no better option!





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