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Indonesia Offers to Mediate Iran Negotiations

While in Indonesia, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a press conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, where he reiterated that Iran will not back down to the West or the UN on its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad attempted to position Iran as ‘champion of the downtrodden’ by declaring that Iran’s nuclear drive was not just for Iran. Ahmadinejad said, “Today the people of Iran are not just defending their own rights, but also those of other nations. They [the United States and other Western powers] want to prevent other countries from reaching the pinnacle of science and technology.”

He went on to say that the United States was simply a nuclear profiteer dominating the world nuclear market and added, “They pretend that they are concerned about the nature of the nuclear program of the Islamic republic of Iran. This is a big lie.”

As for the West’s drive for a negotiated settlement of the issue, he stated once more that Iran would “absolutely not back out” of its nuclear efforts. Yet negotiation was on the mind of the Indonesian president.

President Yudhoyono expressed support for Iran and believed that Iran was willing to resolve the standoff peacefully through negotiation. He even offered to mediate between the sides, which he said Ahmadinejad was very receptive to. “We need to breathe new life into the negotiations,” the Indonesian President said.

Yet, as evidenced by Ahmadinejad’s words once more at the press conference and Iran’s actions over the past three years, not much seems negotiable to the Iranians. Whether with the EU-3, Russia or the UN, negotiations with Iran thus far have proven akin to taking a vegetarian to a hamburger stand.

Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said point blank that future US-China relations depend heavily on their handling of the Iranian nuclear crisis, referring to their coming decisions at the UN Security Council as “exhibit A” and “critical”.

For Russia’s part, Moscow welcomed a senior Iranian official to hammer out the details of launching the Russian-built Bushehr plant on the Persian Gulf coast and nuclear fuel supplies for the plant as Vladimir Putin railed against the United States in his Russian state of the nation speech.

Meanwhile, Israel’s National Security Council, Giora Eiland, stated that while discussion of a military option on Iran is not warranted, there is precious little time for a diplomatic solution. From Jerusalem, Eiland said, “We do believe that a political solution to the problem is still achievable although time is running out. The relevant time terms can be measured in months.”

Time is definitely running out. And, the offer from the Indonesian president to mediate talks notwithstanding, the Iranian stance is unfortunately not one suited for negotiations. While a tough stance is a customary and effective negotiation tactic, this is not a labor negotiation with salaries and health benefits at stake. The cost of failure is far more than a trip to the unemployment line.

Iran’s nuclear destiny is not for sale, regardless of any and all economic benefits strewn about once more from the EU.