(Click on the titles of the articles if you wish to see the whole article…Ed.)
Iran: “Dismantling Nuclear Program Not on the Agenda” – Anne Gearan
“Dismantling [the] nuclear program is not on the agenda,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Tuesday in Vienna, pledging never to dismantle equipment or facilities as the latest talks on Iran’s nuclear program began. (Washington Post)
See also At Nuclear Talks, U.S. Seeks Caps on Iran’s Ballistic Missiles – Jay Solomon
Talks on a permanent Iran nuclear accord opened Tuesday with the U.S. pressing Tehran to agree the deal should encompass caps on its expanding ballistic missile capabilities. “Every issue is on the table as part of the comprehensive negotiations, including Iran’s ballistic missile program,” said a senior U.S. official at the talks.
But Iran says the missiles are beyond the limits of nuclear talks. “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s defensive issues are neither negotiable nor subject to compromise,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, told Iranian state television on Sunday. “We won’t discuss any issue other than the nuclear dossier in the negotiations.” (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. Undercuts Its Own Power in Iran Nuclear Talks – Ray Takeyh
In the nuclear talks with Iran, the U.S. is not dealing with the Soviet Union but a beleaguered middling power that may still be coerced into more expansive concessions. A close reading of Iran’s political scene reveals that Ayatollah Khamenei’s most important red line has not been on the nuclear issue but on preventing moderates from regaining political power.
Given the disparity of power between the U.S. and Iran, Washington has an opportunity to craft a durable accord for arms control while preserving its coercive leverage. Such are the advantages of being a superpower with the world’s largest economy and intact alliances. But for that to happen, the U.S. must stop underestimating its power and overestimating its adversary’s resilience. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Washington Post)
See also Obama Weapons Expert: No Chance of Success with Iran – Jeffrey Goldberg
Gary Samore, who was until recently the Obama administration’s top expert on weapons of mass destruction, says the Iran nuclear talks have an almost zero chance of success because the West has given the Iranian regime insufficient cause to feel as if it must give up its nuclear dreams. (Bloomberg)
The Impending Clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia – Jonathan D. Halevi
In 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini declared that Mecca was in the hands of a “band of heretics.” For the current Iranian leadership, Khomeini’s remarks remain authoritative and frame the way Iran views Saudi Arabia. In January 2014, Frederic Hof, a former adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, disclosed during a congressional hearing that he heard from the Iranians that they viewed Saudi Arabia as their primary enemy, and not the U.S. or even Israel.
In Riyadh’s eyes, Iran remains the most serious security challenge to the stability and territorial integrity of the Saudi kingdom. Saudi Arabia is preparing to purchase an atomic bomb “off the shelf” from Pakistan in order to create deterrence against Iran. Iran’s determination to persist with its nuclear program and the Saudi determination to acquire a nuclear shield may drag the Middle East into a nuclear arms race.
Whatever understandings might be reached between Iran and the West on the nuclear file, Iran has no intention of retreating from its efforts to establish its hegemony in the Middle East. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The Long Iran Stall Begins Again – Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
It’s not just that the Iranians are pouring cold water on any optimism about the negotiations, with their Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying they “will lead nowhere” or his representatives’ adamant refusal to even discuss the dismantling of any of their nuclear infrastructure.
What is most distressing about the Iran talks is the blithe assumption on the part of the negotiators that they will drag on for as long as a year, allowing the Iranians to keep delaying while they continue to get closer to their nuclear goal.
The deal Secretary of State John Kerry signed in Geneva on November 24 stipulated that the talks that would follow were to take place over a six-month period. Kerry and his boss President Obama stressed the six-month time frame in order to assure Americans and nervous Israelis that the agreement couldn’t be used by Tehran to stall the West indefinitely.
Yet we are now being assured that we should expect the negotiations to drag on until 2015 with little hope that they will end even then. With Iran’s economy showing signs of a revival in the wake of the West’s loosening of sanctions, there appears to be no reason to expect Tehran will ever give up its nuclear dream.
Open-ended negotiations were exactly what the president promised he would not be drawn into. For a decade, Iran has been able to engage in diplomatic tricks that have enabled it to stall the West indefinitely as they tried to run out the clock until their nuclear project was completed.
Right now, faith in diplomacy with Iran seems to have more to do with a disinclination to pressure them than it does with any belief that the U.S. can achieve its objectives.