News and views related to U.S.-Iran relations from Nov. 29 – Dec. 2
Foreign Policy: Despite the treasury’s letter to the Senate expressing “the Administration’s strong opposition” to the proposed Menendez-Kirk amendment to a new Iran sanctions bill, it was passed in senate on Thursday with a unanimous vote. Included in this post by Josh Rogin is a “best-guess timeline” of the implementation of the Kirk-Menendez sanctions. Robert Mendendez also expressed his anger yesterday over the Obama administration’s criticism of measures which he claims he was encouraged to make.
Huffington Post: According to Trita Parsi, the attack against the British embassy in Tehran was not only an explicit message from the Iranians that they will not respond positively to pressure. It also signals the rise of hardline conservatives in the government who see no boundaries in their quest to undermine President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
- The attack on the British embassy was not only illegal and disgraceful, it was also a sign of how statecraft in Iran has deteriorated over the past years as a result of internal bickering within the political elite. Key actors within the regime are willing to be take excessive risks on the international stage through reckless actions in order to score points in their petty domestic rivalries.
TIME: The former director of Israel’s national security council, retired Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, tells an army radio station that the mysterious blast in Isfahan this week was “no accident”:
- “There aren’t many coincidences,” he said, “and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God.”
- So given all those factors, with which many nonpartisan and military analysts agree, as well as concerns about an unintended slide from heated rhetoric to confrontation and war, why would a sober, thoughtful defense secretary go so far out of the way to insist that force is not ruled out? Panetta said that the Administration’s goal is to force Iran to choose between a nuclear weapon and re-integration in the region and the world. He knows that diplomacy and economics are the way to achieve that goal — and said so. The Secretary also knows that what he called Israel’s increasing isolation makes things easier for Iran. Hence the invitation to Israel to reach out in its region and alter the dynamic. Panetta, who has developed since arriving at the Pentagon a reputation for speaking off the cuff from time to time, seemed highly calibrated throughout, which made the curtness of his last response, to the question of what Israel should do now, all the more striking: “just get to the damn table.”
Arms Control Association: The U.S. should make the “first move” to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran from becoming a reality since it is still not “imminent nor inevitable” and impose reasonable pressure while offering confidence-building measures:
- Rather than being permanently discouraged by Iran’s unhelpful behavior at Istanbul, the United States and its “P5+1” partners—China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom—should prepare for additional talks with Iran and continue to highlight constructive proposals they are prepared to discuss. This includes outlining the confidence-building steps required to ease the current sanctions regime and end Tehran’s diplomatic isolation.
Al Jazeera English: A timeline of developments surrounding Iran’s nuclear program beginning in 2002.