Iran and the Limits of Isolation

Whether or not the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran “backed” Iran’s nuclear program (the joint declaration adopted at the summit’s end simply “. . .reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states, to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.”), the fact that the meeting took place in Tehran did send me back to this quote from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent interview with Brian Williams: Well, the world — the doors rather of the larger world are not closed to us. This is a great and mighty country, a great nation with a great […]

In mid July, the international community renewed its efforts to curb the spread of small arms and light weapons (SALW). After failing to even adopt a report at their last meeting in 2006, this year’s delegates found a way through Iranian procedural objections to vote for modest next steps on a program of action to address the illicit trade of the deadly devices. Watchers of the small arms trade will now be looking to see if successful conclusion of the meeting adds momentum to a separate process examining the possibilities for a broader global arms trade treaty. In 2001, U.N. […]

WASHINGTON — Sky-high oil prices are keeping Iran’s government flush with revenue. But they are also contributing to Iran’s soaring inflation, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s worst economic woe. Pain at the pump for consumers of oil-importing countries usually translates into political gain for authoritarian leaders in oil-rich countries who use oil rents to buy political support. As Thomas Friedman famously put it, “the price of oil and the pace of freedom always move in opposite directions.” “Iran is no exception,” said Farideh Farhi, a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “But high oil prices […]

Iran’s High Stakes Gambit

The AP via Iran Focus is reporting that Iranian Vice-President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh “signalled” that Tehran would no longer cooperate with the IAEA following his meeting with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei: Investigating such allegations “is outside the domain of the agency,” he said after meeting with ElBaradei. Any further queries on the issue “will be dealt with in another way,” he said, without going into detail. At the same time, according to Alalam News, Aghazadeh expressed optimism regarding the possibility of reaching a negotiated settlement to the issue: “Both sides have received the messages of the other side and are […]

Should We Really Be Rushing Iran?

If you’d like an alternative take on the latest round of Iran nuclear talks, try Flynt Leverett’s and Hillary Mann Leverett’s corrective in the National Interest. They condemn the rush to impose what they call an artificial deadline on Iran to accept our pre-conditions, even if those are more generously defined. Instead, they put the negotiations in the context of consistent Iranian efforts to use issue-specific cooperation as a way to engage a “comprehensive diplomatic agenda,” efforts consistently disappointed by this and previous American administrations. The Leverett’s suggest that recent shifts in American posture have created a receptive climate in […]

More Iranian Response Capacity

In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, Iran hand Gary Sick discusses one potential Iranian response to an Israeli airstrike that Sam Roggeveen forgot to mention yesterday: . . .Clearly, one quick strike like the bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 cannot do it. Iran has spread these [sites] around over a wide range of territory and buried many of them deep underground. . . And it’s hard to believe that Israel could carry out multiple bombing raids, even if they decided to try to do it without U.S. assistance. Then what do you […]

Iran’s “None Paper” Leaked

Some more detail from Elaine Sciolino of the NY Times on a “None Paper” (sic) that Iran distributed at Saturday’s talks in Geneva. (A .pdf version of the document is available here.) The paper’s amateurish style is apparently in stark contrast with Iran’s previous negotiating team (made up of career diplomats), and according to Sciolino’s sources, even the Russian deputy foreign minister couldn’t suppress a laugh upon reading it. The lack of seriousness in Iran’s position, which did not specifically address the P5+1’s initial “freeze for freeze” proposal, is obviously the talking point upon which the EU3 and the U.S. […]

Iran’s Response Capacity

So what would Iran actually do to respond to an Israeli military strike on its nuclear facilities? Sam Roggeveen over at The Interpreter gives the range of possible responses the once-over and comes away unimpressed. He makes a pretty compelling case. If someone had said that Israel would carry out an airstrike on Syria that not only had no regional repercussions, but were followed less than a year afterwards by backchannel peace negotiations between the two countries, most people would have thought he was crazy. So maybe Sam’s got a point.

Iran’s Last Gambit

I mentioned last week, in the aftermath of the announcement that William Burns would be attending Saturday’s Iran nuclear discussions, that the move seemed calculated to appeal to the court of public perception as much as it did to the Iranians. After all, while Burns’ presence represented a symbollic shift, his message didn’t. And it’s a message that the Iranians have consistently rejected over the years. Now that it looks like the meeting between the EU’s Javier Solana and Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili didn’t produce any breakthroughs (which isn’t so very surprising), the onus does indeed seem to be very […]

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . . — That four-page biography of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi distributed to reporters traveling with President Bush to the G-8 summit in Japan earlier this month apparently wasn’t the only White House snafu in the background material compiled for the trip. As was reported, the specially prepared press kit described Italy as “a country known for governmental corruption and vice,” and called Berlusconi an opportunist who bought his way to political power. An Italian correspondent covering the summit read it and immediately telephoned an Italian official who, in turn, took it up with […]

Is Turkey an Iran Backchannel?

I almost flagged a story in the Turkish press the other day about Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki heading to Ankara for talks with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan, mainly because talking to Turkey seems to be synonymous with backchannel negotiations of late. I held off, because it seemed like a stretch. But as Laura Rozen reports in Mother Jones, the story takes on some added significance when Stephen Hadley turns up in Ankara the day before Mottaki: One wonders, is Turkey hosting some sort of pre pre-negotiations now between the US and Iran? The Turkish press certainly seems to think […]

Iran Pivot?

So just how big a deal is the Bush administration’s decision to send third-ranking State Dept. diplomat William Burns to Geneva to sit in on EU-Iran talks on Iran’s nuclear program? In two pieces worth reading (one at Mother Jones, one for the Guardian), Laura Rozen talks to some well-informed folks and concludes that the move is a very strong symbolic signal, but unlikely to be decisive unless it’s followed by flexibility in the American position. To begin with, that means getting the actual negotiation phase started. Here’s a WaPo piece Laura linked to: The administration has also supported Solana’s […]

Negotiating with Iran

Last night, Iran’s less than satisfying response to the P5+1’s latest offer on the nuclear standoff was leaked to the press by a European source. Today, the Bush administration leaked the news to both the Times and the AP that William J. Burns, the third ranking State Dept. official, will attend this weekend’s meeting between the EU’s Javier Solana and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili. It’s the highest-level contact between the two countries, but there are a number of caveats: The officials emphasized that Mr. Burns’s participation was a one-time decision, that he would not meet one-on-one with Mr. Jalili […]

Iran’s Formal Response to the P5+1 Offer

Via Nouvel Obs’ Vincent Jauvert (via Reuters, via TPM) comes this .pdf link to a facsimile of Iran’s formal response to the P5+1’s last offer for negotiating a settlement to the nuclear standoff, delivered in Brussels on the 4th of July. (Who said the Iranians had no sense of irony?) Reuters is highlighting the introductory passages which are basically a diatribe against “. . .the duplicitous behavior of certain big powers. . .who interpret and apply human rights laws and rules on the basis of their self-serving interests. . .” Hmmm. I wonder who that might be. . . A […]

Iraq Withdrawal Timetables

Thinking out loud a bit about the news out of Iraq, what’s interesting is how the Iraqi government, by preempting the call for American troop withdrawals, has essentially appropriated what was originally formulated as an American leverage point (conditional disengagement) and used it against us. The political calculation in Baghdad is that we now need Iraq more than Iraq needs us. But what makes it impossible to really assess the significance of the development, besides the fact that it has yet to be put into ink, is that the political calculation will ultimately depend on the domestic security calculation, and […]

American voters are not the only ones who experience U.S. political theater. Nearly every major newspaper in the world covers developments in the 2008 presidential election pitting Republican Sen. John McCain against Democratic Sen. Barack Obama. Perhaps no other story is covered as frequently around the globe. A close second, however, may be the story of Iran, and international efforts to prevent the Iranian regime from developing nuclear weapons. In fact, both of these story lines regularly overlap, as both U.S. presidential candidates pronounce on policy toward Iran. On domestic policy matters, the policy pronouncements of candidates do not themselves […]

WARSAW, Poland — To defend against the potential threat of a nuclear attack from “rogue states,” the United States has been working to shore up support for deploying 10 silo-based long-range interceptors in Poland and a mid-course tracking radar in the Czech Republic by 2013. After months of shuttle diplomacy and intense negotiations, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice inked a deal with the Czechs on July 8 but failed to convince her Polish counterparts to host the project. For months, it appeared that Poland would easily accept U.S. plans. Undoubtedly, Poland is a strong U.S. ally and a vital […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 211 2 Last