‘A positive response’ says Bush on Iran

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US President George W Bush has welcomed Iran’s initial reaction to a proposal from the EU states designed to achieve a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme and US policy in the Middle East.

During a trip to Tehran the European Union’s foreign policy chief laid out the potential ‘rewards’ involved, and the consequences if Iran doesn’t suspend its nuclear programme.

In response, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator said the package contains some positive steps, especially the accent on a ‘suspension’ of its nuclear enrichment programme.

‘Sounds like a positive response to me,’ said Bush.

The United States reversed course last week and offered to talk directly with Iran if it first put its disputed nuclear programme on hold.

Some of the ‘sweeteners’ in the deal include that Iran will be allowed to buy spare parts for civilian aircraft made by US manufacturers. That restrictions will be lifted on the use of US technology in agriculture. There will be a provision of light water nuclear reactors and enriched fuel, and there will be support for Iranian membership of the World Trade Organisation.

The consequences of refusing a deal include tougher sanctions and threats of military action.

Western diplomats were saying yesterday that what they thought would clinch a deal was the new provision that Iran would be able to enrich uranium at some time in the near future.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has already said the package of proposals contained ‘positive steps’. Also, the Iranian oil minister said on Wednesday that he now hoped that the row would not push Tehran to use reserves of oil and natural gas as leverage in the dispute.

However, it seems that both sides want a deal.

The US is bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire, and wants Iran to help it out by using its influence with the Shi’ite movements that run southern Iraq to quieten the situation so that it can withdraw.

The US also wants Iran to use its influence in the Lebanon to urge Hezbollah to disarm, and Syria to be much more flexible in its relations with the United States and the Iraqi puppet government.

Above all the US wants to be able to focus its attention on what is happening in its own ‘backyard’ in Venezuela and Bolivia, and wants a breathing space to ‘deal’ with these problems.

The Iranian government also has difficulties. It faces a restive working class at home which has been allowed very little access to the oil wealth that the Iranian state and bourgeoisie have accumulated. There is heavy unemployment and major opposition to the privatisation programme that has been carried out by the Iranian bourgeoisie.

It also faces problems with the various Iranian non-Persian nationalities, the Azeris in the north, the Baluchis in the east and the Arabs in the oil-rich west of the country, problems that the Iranian government says are being stirred up by agents of the western powers, to prepare the way for intervention.

However, the US’ removal of Saddam has left the Iranian bourgeoisie dominating the Gulf. It would rather get acknowledgement by the US that it is the regional power with interests that have to be taken into account, than get involved in hostilities with the US and Israel.

The current US crisis in the Middle East gives it an opportunity to attempt to do this.

However, the Iranian bourgeoisie would be very unwise to extend a helping hand to the US out of the Iraqi quagmire, so that it can deal with the Venezuelan and Bolivian revolutions first, and then return its attention to Iran, with a vengeance.

The oppressed nations and the working class of the world have to stick together in the struggle against the common imperialist enemy.

Iran must decline any rotten compromise with US imperialism, and stand with the Iraqi people for the immediate ending of the US-UK occupation of Iraq.