After Election, Iran Problem Presses on Obama

Iran, in a new challenge to the reelected President Obama, said it was willing to speak about nuclear issues anytime, anywhere

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David Lev,

Iranian site after explosion
Iranian site after explosion
Israel news photo: Institute for Science and International Security

Iran is willing to talk to the U.S. about its nuclear program anytime, anywhere, said Secretary of Iran’s Human Rights Council Mohammad Javad Larijani - “even at the bottom of hell.” However, he said, the negotiations must be based on “fairness,” and pressure by the U.S. to force Iran to do anything would not be accepted.

The statement Wednesday was seen by experts as Iran's new challenge to President Barack H. Obama, who was elected to a second four-year term Tuesday. Among the many issues Obama is going to have to deal with in the next four years, the experts said, is how he is going to handle continued Iranian progress towards nuclear weapons.

By even the most conservative accounts, Iran will be able to build such weapons at some point during Obama's second administration. The U.S. has attempted to negotiate with Iran in the past, offering carrots such as providing Iran with low-enrichment uranium for use in its nuclear reactors. Iran has rejected the deals, insisting that it continue with its program to produced 20%-enriched uranium – useful more for nuclear weapons than for the nuclear power Iran claims it is interested in.

Much on the mind of Obama, said the experts, is what Israel's reaction is likely to be. If the U.S. does not take enough of a proactive role in dealing with Iran, Israel may feel abandoned and take matters into its own hands. But with the ongoing recession in the U.S. and the planned cuts to military spending, it's unlikely that the U.S. would want to get involved militarily in another Mideast trouble spot, they said.

“Negotiation with the U.S. due to pressure is not acceptable to us,” Larijani said, emphasizing that any talks must be conducted in a “mutual atmosphere of respect. The U.S. will start to be wise only when it manages to win the Iranian nation's trust”, he added.

Earlier, Larjani addressed a sort of congratulation message to Obama, saying that with his reelection, Iran hoped that he would “take the opportunity to remove Israel's weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons.” Doing so, he said, “would end a period of violence and bloodshed that has plagued the world.”