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Editorial: Iran’s still a U.S. enemy despite its sweet talk

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U.S. lawmakers have good reason to be uneasy about talks with Iran over its nuclear programs.

While they are giving President Barack Obama some leeway in negotiating with new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, they also are working on a Plan B – tougher sanctions against the Islamic nation. That’s especially important when we have an administration that uses the term “red line” in an almost whimsical fashion in the context of foreign policy.

On Sept. 26, talks began between Iran and six world powers on that nation’s nuclear program. The next day, Obama reached out to Rouhani in a phone call that was the first contact between the leaders of the two nations in more than three decades.

Economic sanctions must be having some effect, otherwise its unlikely Iran would be open to talks.

That is not sitting well with longtime U.S. ally Israel. After all, Tehran does not recognize Israel, supports anti-Israeli militants, and its leaders have previously called for Israel’s destruction.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged that Rouhani was conducting a “charm offensive” as a smoke screen to give Iran more time to develop a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu, in a face-to-face visit with Obama, beseeched him to stand fast on current sanctions and to toughen them if Iran continues work on a nuclear weapon during negotiations.

Obama wants Rouhani to prove he’s willing to curtail some of Iran’s uranium enrichment activity. Rouhani says Iran is open to discussing “details” of its nuclear activities but its right to enrich uranium “is not negotiable.”

Which raises the question: Why does Iran need nuclear power anyway at a time when other countries are moving away from nuclear power as an energy source? What for, if not to develop nuclear weapons?

The Obama administration absolutely should pursue diplomacy here – with the unwavering position that Iran must not be allowed to develop the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. Period.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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