US, Iran Agree to 1st Direct Nuclear Talks

But negotiations are fraught with election-year politics
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2012 5:46 PM CDT
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012.    (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

(Newser) – Tehran and Washington have agreed to the first-ever direct talks about Iran's nuclear program, but only after Nov. 6—because Iran insists on meeting with a newly elected president, the New York Times reports. The plan could easily fall through, however—either because Iran is bluffing to ease international pressure, or Mitt Romney, if elected, takes a hard line and refuses to meet. Plus Iran is trying to link the talks to other issues, like Syria and Bahrain, which could draw howls from Washington.

The proposed negotiations are also fraught with election-year politics, the Times notes. While President Obama could trumpet the talks as a diplomatic breakthrough, opponents may argue that Iran is using him to buy time. Romney is in a tight spot too, because he has opposed letting Iran enrich any uranium—a likely concession if the talks occur. And Israel is already balking: "We do not think Iran should be rewarded with direct talks," said Israel's US ambassador, "rather that sanctions and all other possible pressures on Iran must be increased."

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