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Lieberman on Iran

11:48 AM, Oct 1, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Joementum talked Iran this morning at an AEI/Brookings event on the Hill this morning. Lieberman is skeptical, to say the least, of the prospects that any real progress will be made on the nuclear issue at today's P5 +1 meetings:

I have supported President Obama's decision to make a good faith effort to engage the Iranian government in direct diplomacy. By doing so, the President has put the global spotlight exactly where it belongs: on Iran's intransigence.

Unfortunately, however, there has been nothing in the Iranian leaders' behavior since President Obama came to office to ever suggest they are now any more likely to reciprocate the President's good faith, or accept their responsibilities under international law, than they were on January 20th. On the contrary, there is significant evidence past and present that gives us reason to believe that they will try to exploit the current attempt at engagement by the West, just as they have exploited past attempts at engagement, as an opportunity to ensnare us in a process without end, while they continue to advance toward a nuclear breakout.

I know that there are some who argue that, in the wake of the protests following Iran's June 12 election, the Iranian regime will now be more amenable to striking a deal, in order to defuse tensions at home. I disagree. It seems to me that what we have witnessed in recent months in Iran is a consolidation of power within the regime by its most hard-line elements.

As a result, I fear that we are now dealing with an Iranian leadership that is even more ideologically inflexible, and thus less likely to accept negotiated compromises and agreements-including ones that are in their national self-interest. The fact is, the Iranians have lied and cheated and violated their obligations under international law for years-and thus far, they have gotten away with it. So why would they now change course?...

"The bottom line is this: it is not enough for the Iranians to engage in a process in Geneva today. That process needs to yield results-and quickly."

Full text of his speech after the jump....Below is the full text of his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you so much for that kind introduction, Dany. I am grateful to the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution for joining together to organize this morning's event, which takes place at a pivotal moment in the relations between the United States and Iran. And I am honored to be followed by the panel of thoughtful analysts you have brought together.

As we speak, senior diplomats from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China are sitting down in Geneva with a representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This meeting of the P5+1 marks the first face-to-face contact between the American and the Iranian governments since President Obama came to office more than nine months ago, pledging to pursue direct dialogue with Tehran.

Today's meeting also takes place in the shadow of the disclosure less than a week ago of the existence of a covert uranium enrichment plant, built into a mountain on a military base controlled by the IRGC outside the city of Qom.

The secret construction of this facility, whose size, configuration, and location are inconsistent with a peaceful energy program, fits into a pattern of deception and concealment by the Iranians about their nuclear activities that stretches back over twenty years. It also adds to the already substantial body of incriminating evidence that Iran is secretly, steadily developing a nuclear weapons capability.

I have supported President Obama's decision to make a good faith effort to engage the Iranian government in direct diplomacy. By doing so, the President has put the global spotlight exactly where it belongs: on Iran's intransigence.

Unfortunately, however, there has been nothing in the Iranian leaders' behavior since President Obama came to office to ever suggest they are now any more likely to reciprocate the President's good faith, or accept their responsibilities under international law, than they were on January 20th. On the contrary, there is significant evidence past and present that gives us reason to believe that they will try to exploit the current attempt at engagement by the West, just as they have exploited past attempts at engagement, as an opportunity to ensnare us in a process without end, while they continue to advance toward a nuclear breakout.

I know that there are some who argue that, in the wake of the protests following Iran's June 12 election, the Iranian regime will now be more amenable to striking a deal, in order to defuse tensions at home. I disagree. It seems to me that what we have witnessed in recent months in Iran is a consolidation of power within the regime by its most hard-line elements.