The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for Sept. 19

Wall Street Journal: Iran is called “aggressively defensive” by an unnamed U.S. official in an article about how a “direct military hot line” is being considered to prevent “miscalculations” after an escalation in “near-miss” military encounters between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic in the Persian gulf.

The U.S. is portrayed as being wary of engaging with Iran directly, but according to the official, it has a history of speaking to its “enemies”:

We spoke to the Soviets when we had thermonuclear weapons pointed at each other.

According to the National Iranian American Council, this event is part of campaign by U.S. military leaders to open channels for direct communication with Iran.

National Review Online: Seth Leibsohn, a fellow at the Claremont Institute who served as a policy advisor for Rick Santorum’s political action committee (he runs a PR firm with his wife), attempts to alarm and infuriate readers by writing that

This week, New York City — America — will play host to two tainting and tainted sets of affairs at the United Nations. First, the most dangerous man in the world heading the most dangerous regime in the world, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, will arrive here to speak.

He berates Columbia University for allegedly inviting Ahmadinejad to its campus, but Leibsohn, who boasts on his bio that he has “written speeches for and collaborated with candidates for national office and several former cabinet officials” didn’t check his facts on that one.

As shown by Columbia Professor Gary Sick, no invitation was extended by Columbia and no such event is being hosted on the campus. Leibsohn’s hot air is part of the “shoddy journalism” that surrounds Ahmadinejad’s New York visit.

Leibsohn also claims that the Iranian president shouldn’t be allowed to set foot on U.S. soil, which would amount to the Islamic Republic being barred from the United Nations headquarters even though it is a member state. In other words: isolate this extremely isolated country even more and make diplomacy less attainable than it already is.

For Leibsohn, the other “tainted set of affairs” that will take place this week is the Palestinian bid for UN state recognition.

Reuters: If you read any news articles about Iran on Monday you likely saw this quote by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu:

Iran has continued to engage in a long-standing pattern of denial, deceit and evasion, in violation of its (nuclear) non-proliferation obligations.

Reuters reports that the U.S. and Iranian representatives “traded accusations” at a 151-nation meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Monday. Iranian nuclear energy chief Fereydoon Abbasi is also quoted on Forbes saying that the reason Iran moved its Fordow nuclear power site underground is because of fears that it would be attacked by the U.S. and its allies if it was above ground.

A translated transcript of Abbasi’s speech to the IAEA (it does not include the quotes above) where he questions the IAEA’s impartiality and insists that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful can be found at Fars News Agency.

Jasmin Ramsey

Jasmin Ramsey is a journalist based in Washington, DC.