February 25, 2007


Iran's hints suggest chance for diplomacy (Abbas Milani, February 25, 2007, Sacramento Bee)

After a meeting with the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader's chief foreign policy adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati, declared last week that suspending uranium enrichment is not a red line for the regime -- in other words, the mullahs might be ready to agree to some kind of a suspension.

Another powerful insider, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said much the same thing in a different setting, while a third high-ranking official acknowledged that the Islamic Republic is seriously considering a proposal by President Vladimir Putin of Russia to suspend enrichment at least long enough to start serious negotiations with the United Nations.

There have also been indications that the Iranians are willing to accept a compromise plan presented by Mohamed El Baradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. That plan calls for the suspension of all major enrichment activities but allows the regime to save face by keeping a handful of centrifuges in operation.

The mullahs are keen on damage control on another front as well.

After his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, Velayati announced that the Holocaust is a fact of history and chastised those who question its reality. Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, also declared the Holocaust a "historical matter" to be discussed by scholars (and not, he implied, by ignorant politicians). In short, there is a new willingness among the Iranian political elite to avoid the rhetoric of confrontation and to negotiate.

Ahmadinejad Pledges to Push Iran Privatization (Fars News Agency, 2/25/07)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pledged to drive ahead privatization in Iran following recent orders by the Supreme Leader to accelerate the slow opening-up of the country's economy to the private sector.

"The government is determined to open all avenues and unscrew every bolt to implement article 44 of the constitution," Ahmadinejad told a meeting of leaders from the engineering sector. [...]

Ayatollah Khamenei had on Monday described the actions undertaken to implement article 44 as unsatisfactory, saying that not enough attention was being paid to "creating a major evolution in the country's economy."

"Those that are hostile to these policies are those who are going to lose their interests and influence," he said.

They don't call him the Guardian for nothin'.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 25, 2007 7:25 PM
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