U.S. to Iran: deal or no deal?

U.S. to Iran: deal or no deal?

U.S. to Iran: deal or no deal?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 1 2006 3:27 AM

Tehran Turnaround?

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox, and New York Timesall lead with the White House's announcement that it will negotiate with Iran—in conjunction with European allies—if Tehran suspends its uranium enrichment. The Washington Postfronts Iran but leads with a preview of a coming military report on the Haditha massacre that will point a finger up the chain of command and criticize officers failing to look into what happened at Haditha. The report will also call for U.S. troops to face "core values" training. The LAT interviews more survivors, including a 7-year-old boy who recounts watching Marines murder his father. USA Todayleads with the Justice Department asking Internet companies to save data of surfers' activities—such as search terms—for two years. Companies currently have to keep the records for three months. The government says it wants the data on hand for potential investigations and won't peek without subpoenas.     

Iran's initial response has been to call the offer a "propaganda move." The expectation—and in some offices, hope—is that Iran will stick to that and reject the proposal. As the NYT puts it, the administration's offer is aimed "as much at placating American allies as at wooing Iran." If Tehran balks, the idea goes, Russia and China will be more likely to support at least some sanctions.

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Secretary of State Rice reportedly started pushing the idea about a month ago. One "former official" told the NYT, "It came down to convincing Cheney and others that if we are going to confront Iran, we first have to check off the box" of offering negotiations.

Slate's Fred Kaplan reminds that Washington is still keeping off the table what Iran wants most: security guarantees. "Unless both sides take a few more steps," writes Kaplan, "unless they both change their attitudes and their goals—the overtures will amount to nothing."

Of course, those few steps are more likely today than they were a few days ago. As the LAT reminds, the proposal could eventually push "all parties to re-assess their positions."

The WP off-leads and NYT teases the federal government cutting terrorism preparedness grants to a few big cities—namely D.C. and New York—and giving more dough to midsize cities, as well as Chicago and the L.A. area. The papers play up complaints from their respective hometown officials. "Homeland Security Criticized Over Grants," says the Post's subhead. Raise your hand if you're surprised that D.C. and New York officials are kvetching about the cuts.

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Instead of repeated quotes from irked local pols, it'd be helpful if the papers spent more time exploring whether the grants were indeed divided more intelligently, as the government has promised.

The WP goes inside with a U.S. military spokesman suggesting that GIs in Kabul did indeed shoot at some Afghans after Monday's traffic accident that sparked a riot. "Initial indications from our investigation are that coalition soldiers did in fact use their weapons in self-defense," said the spokesman. The NYT doesn't read that as an acknowledgement, but it quotes a local police commander saying he saw GIs fire into the crowd and kill four people. The military said it's all under investigation.

The NYT fronts Iraq's new prime minister visiting, and declaring a state of emergency in, once reasonably stable Basra. Rival Shiite parties have been vying for power and doing so with competing assassination efforts. "As long as we have parties, it's impossible to ensure security," said one local official. "If you print this, I'll be killed."

Another roughly 50 civilians were killed around Iraq. Forty-two bodies were discovered in Baghdad, "most of them shot in the head and showing signs of torture."

The NYT reports on deep core samples from the Arctic Ocean showing that 55 million years ago—during a big global warming period—the sea was downright toasty and much warmer than scientists have long estimated. That suggests current simulations aren't accounting for some mechanism in global warming. "Something extra happens when you push the world into a warmer world," said a researcher from the Arctic study, "and we just don't understand what it is."

An Associated Press piece inside the WP mentions a state-appointed panel concluding that violence in North Carolina's Wilmington in 1898 wasn't just a race riot. It was a coup—the only one recorded in U.S. history.