London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The US sources and officials have told the Asharq Al-Awsat that US policy towards Iran will not be immediately affected by the results of the Iranian presidential elections, or by the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad winning a second term, pointing out that Washington would like to see a change in the behavior of Iran, regardless of who is in government or who is president, and that the US Administration is more concerned about the policies of Iran.
One US official close to the Iranian nuclear file told the Asharq Al-Awsat that there is no change on the part of the US Administration regarding talks with Iran, and that the US plans regarding sitting down with the Iranians and having direct talks, will not be changed by the results of the presidential elections.
The US official explained that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will participate in the conference to be held in Italy at the end of this month, to discuss the developments in Afghanistan and Pakistan and how Iran can help in that the stability of the region. The official said that an invitation has been sent to Iran in this respect. However, the election of Ahmadinejad for a second term may strengthen the position of the doubters in the US Administration, who would like the US to take a more intransigent position and set a time-limit for the dialogue with Iran.
However, informed US sources spoke of differences between the view of Dennis Ross, US Department of State adviser on Iran and the Western Asia, and that of Richard Holbrooke, US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The sources explained that Holbrooke and close associates have expressed discomfort at what they regard as deliberate leaks to the press by Ross and his associates concerning a time-limit for dialogue to put more pressure on Iran and make them negotiate seriously.
According to the sources, Holbrooke prefers the talks to be held behind closed doors and that no messages should be leaked to put pressure on Iran, particularly as some parties in the US Administration have serious reservations regarding Iran’s cooperation and changing its policies. Ahmadinejad’s election for a second term strengthens those doubts, as his language during the election campaign fluctuated between harsh and very harsh, regarding Israel, the holocaust, and Iran’s nuclear program.
According to another US source, which preferred to remain anonymous, the election of Ahmadinejad was not the US favorite choice. The sources explained that “Ahmadinejad has been controversial enough not to propose a direct meeting with him. The US Administration prefers direct talks and open meetings for removing misunderstandings or discussing differences. This is clear from the meetings of George Mitchell and other US officials with the Syrians, but it does not foresee this happening with Ahmadinejad,” the source said.
Nevertheless, the source added: “We should not expect the United States to be slow in seeking dialogue after the election of Ahmadinejad. Washington has now even bigger doubts regarding the possibility of Iran changing its policies. The first thing the US Administration wants to know is whether Iran is going to cooperate and whether it is going to change its policy. The ideal way to do this is to open a dialogue and put pressure on the Iranians to respond, and to use all means to make them move on. Washington is not going to wait for too long. The election of Ahmadinejad has made the Israelis more anxious and made us more ready to make a move and decide the issues of success and failure. Now the harsh diplomacy begins.”
According to Garry Seek, who is an expert on the Iranian affairs and was the deputy national security adviser in the administration of former US President Jimmy Carter, “the result of the Iranian presidential elections is an Iranian problem and not a US problem.” He believes the US Administration will go ahead with its plans for dialogue with Iran to persuade it to stop uranium enrichment. He went on to say that “the US Administration will deal with any Iranian government. The problem with this government is in its legality, as it stands accused by the reformists of rigging the elections. Consequently the problem of this government will be an Iranian, not a US problem.”
Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations recently stated that the United States is not going to change its policy toward Iran because of the results of the elections in the Islamic Republic. She said: “The US policy regarding Iran and its nuclear program is not dependent on who is ruling in Iran.” She added: “We believe that Iran has to discontinue its nuclear program and the program on nuclear weapons, and this will not change according to the election results.”
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons, and the UNSC has been calling on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment. However, Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and is continuing its uranium enrichment, despite the Western pressure and related UN resolutions and sanctions.