The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for January 15-18:

  • The Wall Street Journal: In his weekly column, neoconservative Bret Stephens acknowledges that the Stuxnet virus appears to have done serious damage to Iran’s nuclear program but, “As of last November, U.N. inspectors reported that Iran continued to enrich uranium in as many as 4,816 centrifuges, and that it had produced more than three tons of reactor-grade uranium.” Stephens says, “That stockpile already suffices, with further enrichment, for two or possibly three bombs worth of fissile material.” He goes on to suggest that North Korea might export enriched uranium to Iran: “Merely stamp the words “Handle With Care” on the crate, and the flight from Pyongyang to Tehran takes maybe 10 hours.” Stephens ominously concludes, “The next time Israel or the U.S. tries to stop Iran’s nuclear advances, the means aren’t likely to be as targeted, or as bloodless,” and, “Wars are never won by covert means alone.”
  • Commentary: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Benjamin Weinthal writes on Commentary’s Contentions blog that “Iran’s pariah regime said today that it plans to drop the death-by-stoning penalty against Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.” (The New York Times reported that the head of the Human Rights Committee in Iran’s parliament said the stoning sentence had never been confirmed.) Weinthal theorizes that, “Given Iran’s deceptive behavior with respect to its illicit nuclear weapons program, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might be flirting with a cooling-off period in order to reimpose the stoning penalty at a later stage,” and partially blames the EU for failing to adequately sanction Iranian human rights abusers. “While the European Union claims to have cornered the market on advancing human rights, there is an eerie silence and passivity emanating from the E.U. about sanctioning Iran for human rights violations,” he writes. Weinthal concludes, “The tragic case of Ms. Ashtiani shows that if the Western democracies decide to fill its human rights rhetoric with meaning and content, they can influence a change in Iran’s incorrigibly reactionary domestic policies.”
  • The Wall Street Journal Europe: Author Giulio Meotti and FDD’s Benjamin Weinthal opine that Germany and Italy have “put themselves on the wrong side of history” by increasing trade with Iran. “As Tehran continues its illicit nuclear program, Berlin and Rome are extending a commercial life line to the regime,” they write. “If Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is serious about his pledge to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, he ought to find ways to help Italians buy oil from other sources… Without the help of the two European economic powerhouses, Iran would have considerably less money with which to build nuclear weapons, and to finance terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas,” they conclude. “Unfortunately, it appears Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Berlusconi still consider their countries’ combined €10 billion trade relationship with Iran to be more important than stopping a nuclear Iran.”

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.


One Comment

  1. If Iranians were living homeless, scavenging from refuse what they can in the desolation that remains of their country, you know, there’d be no nuclear program. You know, without electricity, they wouldn’t need power plants, nor Nuclear Power. Kinda like our motto for rugby road trips, aim low.

Comments are closed.