News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for Aug. 25 – Sept. 4
The National Review Online: The American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Rubin attempts to compare Muammar Qaddafi’s “last stand” with a similar scenario involving an imaginary nuclear-armed Iran. Rubin claims successive U.S. administration policies of “traditional deterrence” have been guided by the generally accepted notion that the Iranian leadership is not suicidal and would therefore not use nuclear weapons if they acquired them. But Rubin argues this assumption is wrong because:
- When considering Iran’s nuclear weapons, however, the character of the regime is less important than the ideology of those who would have custody, command, and control of the nuclear arsenal.
Rubin then says the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are unpredictable when it comes to using nuclear weapons. He writes this while admitting that the “Revolutionary Guards remain effectively a big black box to the American analytical and academic communities.”
As an afterthought Rubin adds:
- Still, no matter how extreme they may be, the future custodians of an Iranian nuclear device may not be suicidal — so long as the regime’s grip is secure.
But wait, there is still something for us to be alarmed about! “No Iranian leader,” says Rubin, “can bet on stability.” So if the “regime collapse is inevitable, assumptions that the regime will act to moderate its own behavior become moot.”
Agence France-Press (AFP): The Iranian Students’ News Agency quotes Iran nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi Davani saying that Iran will give the IAEA “full supervision” of its nuclear sites for 5 years if all UN sanctions are lifted. AFP writer Mohammad Davari notes that Abbasi Davani did not elaborate on when the offer was made to the IAEA or what he meant by “full supervision.” Abbasi Davani, who survived an assassination attempt on November 29, also complained about a rise in Western attempts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear power program.
The Jerusalem Post: Barry Rubin, an Israel-based American Middle East expert closely affiliated with the U.S. Israel lobby describes the Arab Spring through an Israeli lens. Rubin predicts that the corrosive effects of the Arab revolutions will weaken Arab states while Israel “will continue to advance economically and militarily.” Iran’s alleged hegemonic ambitions will be impeded by the Sunni Islam bent of the Arab democracy movements. Rubin adds that the Iranian nuclear “threat” isn’t all that threatening considering it’s slow-moving progress:
- Moreover, Iran is taking far longer to get nuclear weapons than expected due to technical and other problems. The regime also faces potential internal revolt. Of course, Iran is a legitimate Israeli concern but the threat today is far less than it was expected to be several years ago. The likelihood of Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear installation has also dropped sharply.
The Washington Post: Former Israeli ambassador to the United States Sallai Meridor inadvertently makes a good case for why Iran would want to acquire nuclear weapon capacity while arguing that Iran should be watched more carefully:
- While the world might be looking elsewhere, the Iranians have boosted the production of enriched uranium, upgraded the level of enrichment closer to weapons-grade and are reportedly moving essential production aspects to a well-protected underground facility. To the mullahs, who face growing uncertainties and are trying to draw their own lessons from events around them, what could better protect them and enhance their clout than the possession of a nuclear bomb?