The Daily Talking Points

News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 24th, 2010:

  • The Atlantic: Marc Lynch responds to Jeffrey Goldberg’s cover story on the likelihood of an Israeli air strike on Iran. Lynch disagrees with Goldberg’s assertion that a failure for the Obama administration to act militarily will result in an Israeli strike on Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities. “Instead, I see an attempt on the part of Goldberg’s Israeli sources to prepare a policy climate in which such an attack seems increasingly plausible and other options are foreclosed …” writes Lynch. He concludes that both Israelis and people in the United States are aware of the disastrous consequences of a military strike and are not nearly as fixated on the “never ending series” of deadlines as Israeli and U.S. hawks would like to suggest.
  • The Wall Street Journal: Gerald F. Seib suggests that as the costs imposed by sanctions on Iran go up, Tehran is looking for a face-saving “exit ramp” to give up its alleged nuclear weapons program. Seib disagrees with hawks, such as John Bolton, that Russia’s assistance in fueling the Bushehr nuclear power plant pushes Iran closer to having a nuclear weapons program. “By providing the fuel, and taking away spent fuel, the Russians have undercut Iran’s argument that it has to do its own enrichment,” said Seib. He continues, “Beyond calling Iran’s bluff, there’s a genuine need to find out whether Iran’s leaders—at least some of them—might actually be interested in a way out.”
  • The Wall Street Journal: Foundation for Defense of DemocraciesMichael Ledeen argues that internal conflict and sabotage are becoming more widespread within Iran and, “[e]ven the government’s campaign of repression seems increasingly sloppy.”  Ledeen has been one of the more vocal neoconservative supporters of the Green Movement, even when Iranian pro-democracy reformists have said that explicit U.S. support of the movement could damage its legitimacy within Iran.
  • Los Angeles Times: Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim report on how international sanctions designed to punish Iran for its nuclear program are benefiting Iran’s most hard-line elite and the Revolutionary Guard. The sanctions are succeeding in increasing the cost on items of importance to ordinary citizens but, “key businesses and government operations controlled by the Revolutionary Guard have found ways to skirt the sanctions, which ban trade with state-run firms connected to the nuclear program, by enlisting private-sector firms as fronts.”  Well-connected firms are reported to be benefiting from a “sanctions-breaking” industry.

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.



  1. It’s an interesting exercise to read Jerry Seib’s column and then the LA Times piece. Are sanctions really hurting Iran or not? More expensive consumer goods and even a gasoline shortage are unlikely to make the regime cry uncle, or provoke major unrest among the citizenry. Maybe both sides will come to their senses and work out a deal that gives Iran a civilian program while making the nuclear issue go away for five or more years. I don’t believe anyone on either side wants war, with the exception of some extremists here and in Israel. And I don’t think those extremists can make war happen, at least not while B.O.’s in the White House.

    If Iran is smart, it will make a deal soon and put off the development of nuclear weapons to a later day. Time is on the Iranians’ side; they would be foolish to provoke an attack.

  2. Isn’t the deal with the Russians for a Light Water Nuke Reactor. I’m no expert, but I’m under the impression that Light Water Reactors AREN’T able to be upgraded to Weapons grade. So, the Russian deal IS a way to diffuse this tension. I believe this is a prime example of more sophism.

    I generally agree with Jon on this. Even the “rational” people here are fanning the flames of enmity.

    I tend to agree that sanctions are like throwing Brear rabbit into the Brear patch. I think that these mainstream authors are worried about exposing secrets, which means they really aren’t aware of what is in the public domain already. This can be explained by their too cozy relationship with connected and intelligence officials. These relationships no doubt blunt curiosity and their independent inquiry. This explains why independent journalist and attentive laymen can be much better informed than these obsequious sycophants.

  3. I think it was one of Juan Cole’s recent blogs, that discussed the nature of LWRs, and their inability to produce anything that could be turned into an atomic bomb. Bushehr is a light water reactor, as was the Osirak reactor in Iraq that the Isaelis bombed in 1981. The raid convinced Saddam that he needed to obtain some weapons of mass destruction, so look how well that turned out for all parties.

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