Monday, September 16, 2013

Iran is Next

This just in from Der Spiegel:

But the long-smoldering nuclear dispute with Tehran may be about to take a sensational turn. SPIEGEL has learned from intelligence sources that Iran's new president, Hassan Rohani, is reportedly prepared to decommission the Fordo enrichment plant and allow international inspectors to monitor the removal of the centrifuges. In return, he could demand that the United States and Europe rescind their sanctions against the Islamic Republic, lift the ban on Iranian oil exports and allow the country's central bank to do international business again.

Rohani reportedly intends to announce the details of the offer, perhaps already during his speech before the United Nations General Assembly at the end of the month. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, will meet Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top diplomat, in New York next Sunday and give her a rough outline of the deal. If he were to make such wide-ranging concessions, President Rohani would initiate a negotiating process that could conceivably even lead to a resumption of bilateral diplomatic relations with Washington.

This has surely been in process for some time. But what an amazing confluence of events! Iran observes us following a two-track, force/diplomacy path with Syria: We are willing to strike; but we prefer diplomacy to achieve CW elimination in the interest of non-proliferation. We will even take a risk - working with our erstwhile Russian adversaries to secure the weapons. All this is a great blueprint for moving strongly ahead with Iran.

Obama has just taken a huge risk in the Syria actions: he has chosen to trust Russia, that they will work effectively with their client Syria to identify and begin the removal of Syria's CW. He retains the option of force, but if Russia fizzles out, he will be embarrassed. If Iranian President Rohani does, in fact, offer to shut down the Fordo enrichment facility, Obama will be faced with new trust and leap of faith issues: whether/how much to pull back on the sanctions and does the West affirm Iran's right to enrich uranium, subject to inspections.

Up until now, we and our partners have said: no enrichment, and no sanction relief until all your work is done. This won't fly, I don't think. Just like Reagan helped Gorbachev convince his hardline Russian associates that letting go of satellite Europe was OK, because the US was going to dramatically reduce its strategic weapons along with Russia - we need to help Rohani sell an agreement to the Iranian hardliners and the Supreme Leader Khamenei. We need to affirm Iran's right to enrich, subject to inspection; and we need to offer quick sanction relief. Most likely, Obama will be hammered from the Right if he supports these moves.

Hang onto your hat! Exciting times are right here, right now!

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