Critical time for Iran

AS EU foreign ministers have agreed to implement tougher sanctions to pressure Iran's nuclear programme to a halt, the upcoming meeting between the EU policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani assume an increasingly critical nature.

They provide for the last attempt to waive the coming sanctions, which are stronger than those proposed by the UN, provided Iran is still willing to halt the nuclear production cycle.

It bears reminding that recurring international developments of late have bolstered the argument favouring negotiations and diplomacy to settle matters of contention instead of threats and use of force. The more prominent examples include successes on the North Korean front and Iran itself, when back-door give-and-take secured the release of British sailors recently.

Therefore, it cannot be argued enough that both sides must be willing to exhibit unprecedented flexibility when they sit down to talk on April 25. Both need to realise that history has proved time and again that economic sanctions hurt only the common people of the targeted country, which nobody wants. And considering how the Iranians have had to bear the brunt of international fury over its hardline revolution for years on end, there's no way they could have more stomach for the same.

While the international community has still yet to make an effective case of how Iran is violating the NPT, the Ahmadenijad dispensation, for its part, is not exactly placing the interest of the people above all things, since it's apparently willing to risk considerable economic tightening for them.

Therefore, as the situation is about to enter an irreversible phase of trade offs —Iran is sure to respond in some manner to the sanctions —a last minute realisation is unlikely to avert further rising of tempers and subsequently stakes, but is not an outright impossibility. That is what the bulk of the concerned international community, and an even more anxious Iranian public is holding its breath in anticipation of.

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