On Sunday, after taking the oath as Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani sent out a message to other nations:
The only way to engage Iran is dialogue from equal position, mutual trust-building, respect, and reducing animosity…. Speak to us w/ the language of respect not threats.
On Monday, Rouhani got a rather sharp response from the US Senate — 76 of the 100 Senators sent a letter to President Obama calling for the prospect of military action: “We must be prepared to act and Iran must see that we are prepared.”
The Senators said, ahead of possible high-level talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers this autumn, that the Islamic Republic must significantly slow down its nuclear activities: “We believe our nation must toughen sanctions and reinforce the credibility of our option to use military force at the same time as we fully explore a diplomatic solution to our dispute with Iran.”
The letter repeated, “Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end.”
The firm declaration by the Senators appears to mark the renewed supremacy of “no engagement” forces in Washington. Last week, the other chamber in Congress, the House of Representative, called for more sanctions to slash Iran’s oil exports by 1 million barrels per day — an ambitious target, given that Tehran is now selling only about 800,000 bpd.
Only last month, US politicians and activists supporting engagement — saying that it will help Rouhani in his quest for authority and influence in the Iranian system — claimed a victory with another letter to President Obama: this one from 131 of the 535 Congressional representatives, seeking genuine negotiations over the nuclear issue.
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