Iran Finds New Wiggle Room on Nukes

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The United States says Iran's offer for talks on its nuclear program falls short of United Nations demands. NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says the mullahs in Iran have been emboldened by the emergence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the sectarian war in Iraq, and recent reverses for the U.S.-backed regime in Afghanistan.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

The United States said today that Iran's offer for talks on its nuclear program falls short of United Nations' demands. The State Department said that the conditions set by the Security Council require the full and verifiable suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. Iran did not address those issues in its formal response to the U.N. yesterday.

NPR senior news analyst, Dan Schorr, has been keeping track of the situation with Iran, and he sees a parallel with another international standoff, the one with North Korea.

DAN SCHORR: Call it the Pyongyang Ploy: hold out for direct talks with America and its allies, thus bolstering your international position while budging not an inch on your nuclear aspirations. If North Korea seemed unimpressed by a package of inducements and unfazed by the threat of United Nations sanctions, Iran seems to be even less so. The reason is not hard to find. Iran sees itself at the forefront of a new pan-Islamic movement.

SIEGEL: I have more faith in Islam than in my state. A Congressional report says there's a lot about Iran that we do now know. That's for sure. But we do know that the Iranian mullahs, flush with oil revenues, are putting their imprint on a large part of the Middle East.

There's reason to believe that Iran encouraged Hezbollah to open hostilities against the Israelis, and a Jordanian newspaper says that what it calls the Hezbollah victory will have earth-shaking regional consequences. The mullahs in Iran have undoubtedly made the calculation that fading superpower America has expended its armed might in Iraq and is unable to mount another significant military action in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, recent battles in the Middle East, the emergence of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, sectarian war in Iraq, even recent reverses for the American-backed regime in Afghanistan; all point to Islamic empowerment. This is the atmosphere in which Iran feels powerful enough to thumb its nose at the countries that would deny Iran an Islamic nuclear bomb.

If the confrontation in the Middle East is between radical Islam and democracy, it looks as though at the moment, at least, radical Islam has the upper hand. This is Daniel Schorr.

SIEGEL: Tom Cruise is out of a job and an astrologer considers Pluto demotion form planet status. We go tabloid - just ahead on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

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