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How Not to Negotiate in the Middle East - Michael B. Oren
In reaching the parameters agreement, international negotiators were worn down by the protracted talks. They were persuaded by Iran's displays of warmth and earnestness, and accepted its claim that the nuclear program was a matter of national pride similar to America's moon landing.
Most damagingly, the P5+1 recognized the Islamic Republic's right to enrich and to maintain its nuclear facilities.
Instead of telling the Iranians that "if you don't take this offer, our next one will be smaller," the P5+1 said, "If you don't like these terms, perhaps we can improve them."
Rather than responding to Iranian intransigence with heightened sanctions and credible military force, negotiators removed these options.
The U.S. and its P5+1 partners must reject any further Iranian demands. They should make clear to Tehran that it risks losing the gains it has made while facing punitive measures such as ramped-up sanctions. They must be prepared to walk way.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
Washington Did Not Maximize Its Leverage - David Makovsky
The crux of the Israeli critique of the Iran nuclear deal is that the U.S. did not use its full leverage in the negotiations, and that Washington's objective evolved during the talks from eliminating Iran's program to merely constraining it.
From Israel's perspective, time was on Washington's side, first because Iran's main source of revenue, oil, saw its price halved in the past several months, and second because the world was united against any Iranian nuclear enrichment by dint of six related UN Security Council resolutions.
More broadly, Israel believes that Iran has never made a strategic decision to disavow nuclear weapons, and that the West has moved more toward Tehran during the talks than vice versa.
Israeli officials also believe there is a lot of wishful thinking about Iranian intentions.
The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Khamenei's Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons
In President Obama's announcement following the conclusion of the negotiations in Lausanne, he again mentioned the nonexistent fatwa that Iran's Supreme Leader is said to have issued against the development of nuclear weapons.
Such a fatwa has never been issued, and to this day no one has been able to produce it.
Iran Deal Fails the Tests of Verification - Bret Stephens
What the president calls "this verifiable deal" fails the first test of verification - mutual agreement and clarity as to what, exactly, is in it.
The deal also fails the second test of verification: It can't be verified.
We've seen this movie before. Iran agreed in 2003 to implement the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that permits intrusive inspections, only to renounce it in 2006 after stonewalling weapons inspectors.
But even the Protocol is inadequate, since it doesn't permit no-notice, "anytime, anywhere" inspections.
(Wall Street Journal)
Iran Outmaneuvered the U.S. - Michael Singh
It is hard to deny that the "key parameters" of the Iran nuclear deal hew more closely to Iran's long-held demands than to those of the U.S. The Obama administration's negative view - aired publicly - of military conflict and its other alternatives to a deal appear to have driven its willingness to make concessions.
The Iranians lived up to their reputation as savvy negotiators. As the negotiations progressed, Iran worked to improve its options in the event of no deal and to worsen those of the other side, while employing audacious tactics to secure the best possible agreement among the range of feasible outcomes. The U.S. should seek to counter the Iranian approach, lest the nuclear negotiations be remembered not as a signature foreign policy accomplishment but as a case study of a powerful country playing a strong hand poorly.
The writer, managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, worked on Middle East issues at the National Security Council from 2005 to 2008.
(Wall Street Journal)
Ways to Make Iran Nuclear Deal "More Reasonable" - Isabel Kershner
Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, presented a list of desired modifications for the final agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, due to be concluded by June 30, that he said would make it "more reasonable" and close dangerous loopholes.
The Israeli list includes: An end to all research and development activity on advanced centrifuges in Iran. A significant reduction in the number of centrifuges that can quickly become operational if Iran breaks the agreement and decides to build a bomb. The closing of the underground Fordo facility as an enrichment site, even if enrichment activities are suspended there. Iranian compliance in revealing its past activities with possible military dimensions. A commitment to ship its stockpile of enriched uranium out of Iran. And the ability for inspectors charged with verifying the agreement to go "anywhere, anytime" in Iran.
Regarding Obama's statement that America would back Israel in the face of any Iranian aggression, Steinitz said, "We do appreciate it." But he added that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be an existential threat to Israel. "Nobody can tell us that backing and assistance are enough to neutralize such a threat," he said.
(New York Times)
Iran Has Escaped a Noose - Ehud Barak
The common perception across the Middle East is that America negotiated not out of strength but out of an appetite to obtain a deal. This by itself allowed Iran an advantage in the negotiations, and that advantage has been enhanced by the announcement of an agreement. Making a deal with the U.S. - one that allows Iran's leadership to announce relief from all sanctions without shuttering a single nuclear facility - surely strengthens the Iranians, and that bodes ill from Iran in other arenas.
President Obama does our side no favor by arguing that a strike will ignite another Middle East war. A surgical strike on key nuclear facilities in Iran can throw them five years backward, and a repetition would become a major Iranian worry. The possibility should not be rhetorically holstered. It may be the only language Iran understands.
The writer is a former prime minister of Israel.
Iran's Goal: Become a Regional Powerhouse - Michael Morell
- Last month, Ali Younesi, who was head of intelligence for former Iranian President Khatami and is now a senior adviser to Iranian President Rouhani, spoke at a conference in Tehran and made clear that Iran's ambition is to reestablish the Persian empire. Iran "was born an empire. Iran's leaders, officials and administrators have always thought in the global" dimension.
- Younesi defined "Greater Iran" as reaching from the borders of China and including the Indian subcontinent, the north and south Caucasus and the Persian Gulf. He said Iraq is the capital of the Iranian Empire - a reference to the ancient city of Babylon which was the center of Persian life for centuries.
- "We must try to once again spread the banner of Islamic-Iranian unity and peace in the region. Iran must bear this responsibility, as it did in the past." He also said that anything that enters Iran is improved by becoming Iranian, particularly Islam itself, adding that Islam in its Iranian-Shiite form is the pure Islam. These views are shared widely among Iranian elites.
- Younesi's speech was an outline of Iran's grand strategy. It puts into context Iran's behavior in the region - largely covert operations to undermine its Arab neighbors, Israel and the U.S., the countries that stand in the way of its pursuit of hegemony.