LobeLog on Facebook   LobeLog on Facebook

Managing the Disruptive Aftermath of Somalia’s Worst Terror Attack

by International Crisis Group The devastating twin truck bombings in Somalia’s...


Published on May 18th, 2012 | by Ali Gharib


Graham: ‘We Should Tell The Iranians, No Negotiations’ Until You Give Us What We Want

via Think Progress

Senate Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (SC) said on Fox News last night that the U.S. shouldn’t negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program until it accedes to all U.S. demands and gives up its nuclear program entirely. The remark comes after a week where Congress considered a flurry of hawkish legislation and resolutions about Iran ahead of the next round of nuclear talks next week in Baghdad.

Graham offered his curious take on what it means to negotiate — demanding that Iran accept all U.S. demands prior to negotiation — in a conversation with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, who indicated that his negotiating tactic was probably a non starter. Graham first emphasized his hawkish bent by noting that the “only way” for an agreement to be reached between the sides was for the U.S. to threaten “a strike by the United States.” He went on:

GRAHAM: Here’s what we should do. We should tell the Iranians, no negotiations, stop enriching, open up the site on the bottom of the mountain, a secret site. Then we will talk about lifting sanctions. You are not going to get to enrich uranium any more, period.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think they will probably stay “go fish” on that one.

Watch the video:

Leave aside that the Fordow site is not “secret” (it’s under U.N. inspections and monitored by camera) and that reports on U.S. and Israeli estimates state that these intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran has made a decision to build nuclear weapons (Graham doubts the intelligence), Graham’s position prompts one to ask: What’s the alternative to negotiations, since Graham is proposing pre-conditions that Iran would never meet? The Senator from South Carolina’s been busy on that front, too — and falsely citing the Obama administration to back himself up. The House yesterday passed a resolution that seeks to shift U.S. “red line” for an attack to an Iranian “nuclear capability” — something Graham mentioned on Fox News — from an Iranian push for nuclear weapons.

While the CIA has laid out a specific definition, the “nuclear capability” language is a complex issue. The word “capability” has a special meaning in the non-proliferation context, but it’s not always clear exactly what. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), one of the Sentae’s most vociferous Iran hawks, said this year, “I guess everybody will determine for themselves what that means.”

Before the House version passed, co-sponsor Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) clarified what he meant by “capability,” defining it as Iran mastering all elements of a weapon and kicking out U.N. inspectors. (The move allayed the fears of some critics that the measure could be interpreted as taking Graham’s hard-line on “no enrichment.”) House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) forthrightly noted that the “capability” language was a shift in U.S. policy that stood in contrast to “decision to develop nuclear weapons.” But Graham was most circumspect indefending his version of the bill on the Senate floor yesterday, conflating “capability” with the Obama administration red line of “weaponization.”

But Graham is wrong that blocking an Iranian nuclear “capability” is, as he said, an “echo (of) a policy statement made by President Obama.” In March, Obama committed (again) to “preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon” and that it was “unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon” — not a “capability.” He added, “I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said: “The United States… does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”

While a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The intelligence estimates give the West time to pursue a dual-track approach of pressure and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. Questions about the efficacy and consequences of a strike have led U.S. officials to declare that diplomacy is the “best and most permanent way” to resolve the crisis.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Response to Graham: ‘We Should Tell The Iranians, No Negotiations’ Until You Give Us What We Want

Show Comments >

  1. avatar Brian A Hayes says:

    Graham thinking on Iran is the lazy man’s foreign policy. talk tough and watch no positive change Bush years talk tough no positive change. the same old hawkish BS

About the Author


Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

Back to Top ↑
  • Named after veteran journalist Jim Lobe, LobeLog provides daily expert perspectives on US foreign policy toward the Middle East through investigative reports and analyses from Washington to Tehran and beyond. It became the first weblog to receive the Arthur Ross Award for Distinguished Reporting and Analysis of Foreign Affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2015.

  • Categories

  • Subscribe

    Enter your email address to subscribe to our site and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Popular Posts

  • Comments Policy

    We value your opinion and encourage you to comment on our postings. To ensure a safe environment we will not publish comments that involve ad hominem attacks, racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory language, or anything that is written solely for the purpose of slandering a person or subject.

    Excessively long comments may not be published due to their length. All comments are moderated. LobeLog does not publish comments with links.

    Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!