Iran Agrees To Open Talks: Is Lady Ashton Stalling the P5+1 Talks So That War Can Start?
February 20, 2012 • 9:50AM

On Feb. 16 and 17, EIR had discussions with three highly qualified Middle East intelligence sources about the Iran war threat, the British role, and what the Israelis are up to. The UK/Israeli bloc will try to escalate the timetable for war against Iran, especially if there is a chance of success of the P5+1 talks. The most dangerous time for a unilateral strike is while the talks are getting off the ground and are still inconclusive—starting in March.

It is extremely significant that the Iranians officially delivered their letter to the European Union and Lady Ashton, agreeing to talks in response to the October 2011 letter. The letter from Iran's national security chief, Saeed Jalili, is dated Feb. 14, and Ashton made its receipt public on Thursday, Feb. 17. For months, the whining establishment line about Iran has been that Iran has never responded to the October letter from Ashton. The Ashton letter to Iran was a piece of crap that demanded agreeing to stopping enrichment as a basis for the talks. In effect, the Ashton letter was a provocation, aimed at guaranteeing that no talks would resume. That has now been trumped by Iran.

As of Friday, here are the statements from Hillary Clinton and Jay Carney in response to the Iran letter:

"As outlined in Cathy's [Ashton] October letter to Iran, any conversation with Iran has to begin with a discussion of its nuclear program and Iran's response to Cathy's letter does appear to acknowledge and accept that....

"We must be assured, that if we make a decision to go forward, we see a sustained effort by Iran to come to the table to work until we have reached an outcome that has Iran coming back into compliance with their international obligations.... I think it's fair to say—of course I'll let Cathy speak for herself—that we think that this is an important step and we welcome the letter." Clinton made these statements in a joint press conference on Friday, Feb. 17 with Ashton, who came to Washington to discuss the letter.

White House press spokesman Jay Carney: "We're reviewing the letter .... The Iranians needed to respond to that (October) letter and so they have, but I don't want to make any qualitative judgments about their response at this time," Carney spoke with reporters traveling with President Obama.

"There is time and space here for a diplomatic solution to this, if Iran chooses to engage in constructive behavior," Carney said.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in a separate statement, stuck closely with that line. "We have always maintained that it's in our interest to try to resume talks with Iran — assuming that those talks are constructive," he said, adding that Washington would consult with its partners about any "next steps." Panetta was quoted by the Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA).

Jalili addressed the letter to Ashton who represents the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China, and Russia in the talks. The six are called P5-plus-1, or the permanent five UN Security Council members, plus Germany.

AFP quotes from Jalili's letter: "We voice our readiness for dialogue on a spectrum of various issues which can provide ground for constructive and forward looking cooperation," Jalili wrote.

Jalili wrote that Iran welcomed a statement in the letter "respecting Islamic Republic of Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy consistent with the NPT (nuclear non-proliferation treaty)."

"No doubt that by committing to this approach, our talks for cooperation based on step by step principles and reciprocity on Iran's nuclear issue could be commenced," Jalili wrote.