The Obama administration has agreed to direct talks with the government of Iran, along with the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, at a meeting scheduled for Oct. 1. Now the question is: What will they talk about?
The United States and its allies want to discuss the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, of course; that's why they're meeting. Tehran has proposed a sweeping agenda of global affairs that seems to include everything but its uranium enrichment activities. Human rights activists, meanwhile, are pressing for the group to address Iranian political repression in the aftermath of the contested presidential election, presenting the Obama administration with a potential conflict between U.S. strategic goals of nonproliferation and regional stability, and its interest in promoting democracy and civil rights.
Iran's postelection human rights record is awful. The country's political opposition says 72 people were killed in violence following the June reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- twice the government's count. Of the approximately 4,000 people imprisoned for protests against alleged vote fraud, an estimated 300 to 400 opposition leaders, journalists and student activists remain in jail, accused of trying to launch a "velvet revolution" to topple the government. About 100 detainees have faced mass trials on myriad charges ranging from acting against national security to spreading propaganda and d... >>>
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