How will U.S. deal with Iran’s supreme defiance?

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

Recently, Vice President Joe Biden said the United States was ready for one-on-one negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program “when the Iranian leadership, supreme leader, is serious.”

On Feb. 7, that supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sounded seriously belligerent when he said that Iran isn’t interested in a direct dialogue with the U.S.

That rejection was a bit of a surprise. Recently, both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had expressed interest in Biden’s offer.

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But as Khamenei’s “supreme leader” title shows, he’s the one in charge.

And after the U.S. further tightened economic sanctions against Iran on schedule, the ayatollah was supremely peeved. As he put it during a speech to Iranian air force commanders:

“Does imposing, in your own words, ‘crippling sanctions’ show good will or hostility? Iran will not accept to negotiate with he who threatens us with pressure.”

However, Khamenei did indicate that Iran would move forward to another round of negotiations with the P5+1 group (the U.S., Britain, China, France and Russia – plus Germany), starting Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan.

Unfortunately, considering the futility of previous talks in that series, it would be naive to imagine Iran suddenly backing off from its nuclear-weaponry ambitions.

Indeed, Ahmadinejad, during a visit to Egypt, boasted that Iran is “now a nuclear power” – though he added that it doesn’t plan to attack Israel.

It would be foolish to trust either assertion, especially in light of Ahmadinejad’s many past proclamations that the destruction of Israel looms. …

President Barack Obama has repeatedly said the U.S. will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

But the crucial question of how to prevent that chilling outcome remains unanswered.

— The Post and Courier