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Diplomacy For Iran

Iran has denounced the European Union’s adoption of new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. The sanctions include freezing the assets of Iran’s largest bank, Bank Melli, and imposing a travel ban on experts working on Iran’s nuclear program. The move by the EU follows three rounds of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Both the UN and the EU sanctions were adopted because of Iran’s refusal to comply with Security Council demands that it stop its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activity. Such activity can lead to the development of nuclear weapons.

In a statement, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini called the EU measures “illegal and contradictory” in light of a revised package of incentives recently offered to Iran by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.S., the group known as the P5+1. That package includes political and economic benefits, including help in developing civilian nuclear power, if Iran suspends its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activity.

But there is nothing illegal or contradictory about trying to induce the Iranian government to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions through both pressure and incentives. Such an approach, says US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, is called “diplomacy”:

“Diplomacy is not a synonym for talking. Diplomacy means structuring a set of incentives and disincentives that makes clear to states that changes in their behavior will be met with changes in ours.”

The United States has no permanent enemies, says Secretary of State Rice. Iran faces a strategic choice: to continue to thwart the legitimate demands of the world and deepen its isolation, or to forge a better relationship -- of growing trade, exchange, and cooperation -- with the international community.