Iran Heeds Israel's Uranium "Red Line" -Editorial
- The latest round of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program was, by all accounts, a disappointment. Tehran's negotiators did not spell out a full response to a proposal by the U.S. and five partners for limiting its enrichment of uranium, and what they did say revealed a wide gulf between the two sides.
- The international coalition is offering Iran a partial lifting of sanctions in exchange for a freeze on the production of medium-enriched uranium, while Iran wants a complete lifting of sanctions in exchange for token steps that would leave its nuclear work unfettered. The Obama administration and its allies rightly refused Iranian requests to schedule further meetings.
- Proponents of diplomacy over war with Iran can thank Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader's explicit setting of a "red line" for the Iranian nuclear program in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September appears to have accomplished what neither negotiations nor sanctions have yielded: concrete Iranian action to limit its enrichment.
- A host of commentators scoffed at what they called Mr. Netanyahu's "cartoonish" picture of a bomb and the line he drew across it [pictured above]. The prime minister said Iran could not be allowed to accumulate enough 20% enriched uranium to produce a bomb with further processing, adding that at the rate its centrifuges were spinning, Tehran would cross that line by the middle of 2013.
- But then the regime began diverting some of its stockpile to the manufacture of fuel plates for a research reactor. According to the most recent report of international inspectors, in February, Iran had converted 40% of its 20% uranium for this purpose. As a result, Iran has remained distinctly below the Israeli red line.
- The lesson here is that clear red lines can help create the time and space for diplomacy that President Obama seeks.
Iran Beyond Oil? -Patrick Clawson
Iran is in the midst of a non-oil export boom. While still important, oil is becoming a smaller part of Iran's trade. The country's largest trading partners are Iraq, China, the UAE, Afghanistan, India, and Turkey. In short, even with reduced oil income due to sanctions, Iran's government finances are doing as well as (or better) than those of the U.S. and most other industrial countries.
Iran is therefore unlikely to be crippled by any sanctions the West could impose. Thus, it would be imprudent to rest one's hopes for resolution of the nuclear impasse on such a possibility.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Negotiations on Iran Are Failing -Emily B. Landau
- The latest round of negotiations with Iran has ended in failure, with the two sides as far apart as ever.
- Time is running out for the international community. Iran has built up its nuclear infrastructure and will continue to do so until a decision to move to nuclear weapons is unstoppable. Time works in Iran's favor as long as it can string the international community along, and ward off military action by convincing it that cooperation is just around the corner.
- If Obama is truly committed to stopping Iran, the lack of any reasonable prospect for a negotiated settlement after ten years of efforts should make it clear that the U.S. has no choice, and it's time for more forceful options.
- A limited, surgical strike to Iran's nuclear facilities would send a serious message, perhaps one that would bring them to the table looking for a deal. Military action is far from the preferred option, but it is beginning to look like the one that has a realistic prospect of compelling Iran to seriously consider changing course.
The writer is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.