Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked yet another Iran sanctions bill on the grounds that they needed more time to study it and make sure it was sufficiently punitive. In fact, Republicans want the next sanctions bill to include an “explicit threat of a U.S. military strike if Iran refuses to curb its nuclear ambitions.”

But while Republicans – and sadly, most Democrats – continue to ramp up the frenzy toward war, negotiation has broken out among Iran and its adversaries. Follow-on talks between Iran and Western powers will begin this coming week in Baghdad. The Islamic Republic has made even more headway with the International Atomic Energy Association. The two sides made progress on negotiations this week, and today the head of the IAEA announced that he would visit Iran for the next round of talks:

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog will travel to Iran on Sunday to “discuss issues of mutual interest”.

Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency is scheduled to hold meetings with senior officials in Tehran on Monday.

The IAEA would like Iran to allow its inspectors to visit a site at Parchin.

Getting entry to the site at Parchin has been an obstacle for the IAEA (though weapons inspectors have been allowed in most other sites in Iran). However, Amano probably wouldn’t hold meetings in Tehran if it were impossible. Furthermore, as Jim White reports, a series of signals show that Iran and the IAEA are getting close to agreements on inspections at Parchin and a limit to uranium enrichment.

But this disrupts all the war hawks’ exciting plans, so they’re quite bummed out about it.

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 [...]

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.

Keep in mind that US intelligence agencies do not believe that Iran has restarted a nuclear weapons program.

Another official, current US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who is supposed to be a diplomat, up and announced that the US has an “available” war plan ready to use against Iran if negotiations fail. I would characterize that as completely unhelpful, and an attempt to derail the talks.

“It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,” Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel’s Army Radio on Thursday.

“But that doesn’t mean that option is not fully available – not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it’s ready,” said Shapiro, who the radio station said had spoken on Tuesday.

So you have two sides to this situation – a diplomatic track that appears to be bearing fruit, and a whiny group of neocons who don’t want to see their dream of another war die.