Friday, September 15, 2006

Senator Slams 'Phony Negotiations' With Iran

Kenneth R. Timmerman, NewsMax:
The United States and its European partners "should end phony negotiations" with Iran over its nuclear program, an influential U.S. senator up for re-election this November said Thursday.

Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who has been trailing his Democratic challenger, Bob Casey, in opinion polls until recently, said the United States should "increase sanctions" on Iran and "fund, promote and support the pro-democracy movement, both inside and outside Iran." READ MORE

Speaking with Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Reza Pahlavi, son of the former shah of Iran, Santorum called for "free and fair elections" in Iran, and blasted the Iranian regime for "continued action against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Santorum is the original co-sponsor of the Iran Freedom Support Act, which passed the House overwhelmingly earlier this year and currently has 61 co-sponsors in the Senate. The bill calls for increased sanctions on Iran, and authorizes the State Department to spend up to $10 million per year to assist pro-democracy groups inside Iran and in exile.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., blocked similar legislation earlier this year by convincing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to negotiate with Tehran, not impose sanctions.

"This regime has shown it cannot be trusted," said Pahlavi, who called on Congress to "send a signal" to Tehran and to the Iranian opposition by passing the Santorum legislation.

"We have given diplomacy every chance, and exhausted them," he said, referring to negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. "The only course that remains is to invest in the people of Iran."

Pahlavi urged the United States "not to cut any deals with the regime," and said that U.S. support for the pro-democracy movement would unleash "a dramatic change" inside Iran.

Just as Pahlavi was appearing at the U.S. Senate with Santorum and Martinez, less than a mile away George Soros and other opponents of the Bush administration were meeting at the Hyatt hotel to urge the administration to cut a deal with Tehran.

Addressing a conference he partially funded that was spearheaded by the New America Foundation, Soros spoke of a "grand bargain" with Tehran that would involve U.S. recognition of Iran, a negotiated end to the nuclear showdown, and a resumption of normal relations between the two countries.

Soros discussed the "grand bargain" with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami at a private dinner this week in Boston, several sources told NewsMax Thursday.

"Khatami told us that the U.S. must start negotiations with Iran," an Iranian who was present at the dinner said. "He said that Iran was absolutely willing to suspend uranium enrichment - "but not as a precondition to talks."