Monday, January 27, 2014

Iran & Obama See Eye to Eye

A Convergence of Interests between the U.S. and Iran
- Ephraim Asculai

Sanctions had a severe impact on Iran, but were they the main motive for the interim agreement? Iran is well aware that should it be found to be constructing even a primitive nuclear weapon, it would be susceptible to military attack, if not by the U.S., then by Israel, which has demonstrated its capability and willingness to carry out such an attack.

The main U.S. aim is to avoid conflict. Reaching an agreement with Iran was a brilliant move that served this purpose, and effectively neutralized any call for military action, specifically by Israel

Thus, there is a convergence of interests between the U.S. administration and Iran, and the terms of the interim agreement are not as important as the results of the agreement: reduction of tensions, postponing conflict and the easing of global economic concerns.

Iran can, regardless of the agreement, continue to develop anything it wants at undeclared sites, and as long as these activities remain concealed, all will be well. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif was quite correct in stating, on Jan. 23, that Iran had not agreed to dismantle anything.
The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) in Tel Aviv. 
(Jerusalem Post)

How to Solve Obama's Iran Dilemma - Dennis Ross
  • There is nothing in what the Iranian leadership is now saying that suggests they believe they will have to seriously reduce their program. Their concept would leave them as a nuclear threshold state. Many observers, me included, believe that has been their goal all along.
  • The only chance of getting Iran to give up this objective is for Iran to believe that the cost of pursuing it is simply too high. It was not inducements that got us this far, but the pressure of the sanctions. If Khamenei thinks the sanctions will collapse of their own weight or that there is no prospect for the use of force or that the U.S. is desperate for a deal, there is no prospect of the Iranians accepting that they must roll back their program to the point of not being a threshold state.
  • The administration needs to recognize the importance of being willing to add to the pressure. When the Iranians are doing work on new and more advanced centrifuges, they are sending a signal to us about what they will do if diplomacy fails. The administration can match that by agreeing with key members of Congress on which new sanctions it would be prepared to adopt if there is no follow-on agreement to the Joint Plan of Action.
  • Congress would not adopt the new sanctions during the life of the Joint Plan of Action, but the Hill would know that the administration is preparing the ground to increase the pressure in a meaningful way - and so would the Iranians.

    The writer served as special assistant to President Barack Obama from 2009-11.


Iran Is Not Our Friend - Leon Wieseltier
  • The American government is no longer disgusted by the Iranian government. We are partners now, Washington and Tehran, and not only in the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. The administration hopes for an Iranian contribution also to a diplomatic solution to the Syrian excruciation.
  • There is a bizarre warmth between the governments, a climate of practicality and cordiality, as if a new page has been turned in a history of ugly relations, as if the ugliness of those relations were based only in illusion and misunderstanding.
  • Hassan Rouhani is an improvement over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He does not deny that the Holocaust happened, which for the Islamic Republic counts as a breakthrough in enlightenment. But it is important to remember that Iran is still the Islamic Republic, a theocratic tyranny ruled by a single man, a haughty cleric who subsumes the state beneath religion and his interpretation of it, and maintains his power by means of a fascistic military organization that brutalizes the population and plunders the economy.
  • This same mullah-king supports the murderer in Damascus and the murderers in Lebanon and Gaza, and remorselessly pursues a foreign policy animated by anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism. We may have extended our hand, but the Supreme Leader - the title itself is repugnant to decent modern ears - has not unclenched his fist.
  • I appreciate the need for a diplomatic exploration of the Iranian nuclear challenge, but believing we must choose between a nuclear-free Iran and a tyranny-free Iran is a false choice.
  • In the twentieth century, Soviet missiles threatened the U.S. infinitely more than Iranian centrifuges threaten us now, but arms control was not permitted to eclipse human rights in our policy toward the nuclear dictatorship; and we learned that human rights had vast strategic implications.
(New Republic)

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