News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 10.
- The Washington Post: The Post’s editorial board writes that while sanctions have constricted the Iranian economy, the White House “has yet to produce tangible results” in bringing Iran into compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The editorial cites the new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report which says that there has been no change in Iran’s accumulation of low-enriched uranium. If Iran is diverting weapon-grade uranium to a secret facility, then “economic sanctions are unlikely to prevent it,” warns the Post.
- The National: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the U.S.’s encouragement of democratic forces in Iran, saying that support from Washington does not undermine or endanger them. Clinton told a group of policy experts that Iran was becoming a “military dictatorship.” “There is a very… sad confluence of events occurring inside Iran that I think eventually — but I can’t put a time frame on it — the Iranian people themselves will respond to,” Clinton reportedly told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this week.
- The National: Jason Shams complains of a “lack of understanding that persists about Iran” in Washington, noting the absence of a U.S. embassy in Tehran that forces reliance on severely limited sources of information. The result is a U.S. policy on Iran that has been “a total blunder”: “The drums of war in Washington have helped the Iranian government crush the civil rights movement; the U.S. hawkish policies are used by hardliners in Iran to rally political forces to their cause.” Shams adds that sanctions have allowed the elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) to consolidate its power over industry. “With its ineffective policies, the U.S. government has been the main obstacle for moderates in the Middle East,” he writes. He concludes that U.S. diplomats on the ground, in a U.S. interests section that mirrors the Iranian office in Washington, would gain a granular knowledge of both street level and elite politics and Iran.
- Foreign Policy: William Tobey, who served in the National Nuclear Security Administration under George W. Bush, writes on FP’s Shadow Government blog that the latest IAEA report exemplifies Iran’s unwillingness to cooperate with the international community and highlights the failure of sanctions to make any meaningful headway in slowing Iran’s nuclear program. Tobey argues that sanctions targeting the IRGC and others seen as responsible for the nuclear program are counter-intuitive because such elite groups are well insulated from sanctions and are “committed militants.” The solution, he suggests, is to expand sanctions to broaden the portion of Iranian society which will “feel the costs” of the nuclear program. “As Iran marches towards nuclear capability, further delay will only narrow our options to a choice between the unacceptable and the unthinkable,” he concludes.
- Foreign Policy: Our IPS colleague Omid Memarian interviews Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, the daughter of Iran’s powerful opposition figure Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. She speaks of a hopelessness in Iranian politics and, asked about a potential meeting between Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Barack Obama, she says, “I don’t think anyone is waiting for any positive change in Iran’s internal or foreign politics or putting too much hope on it.” She says Iran’s leaders need a “wake-up call” and, in her next thought, positively cites the Iraqi experience: “Didn’t the people of Iraq join with foreigners who attacked their country in order to free themselves from injustice and to save themselves and their country? Was this their initial demand, or did their deteriorating conditions lead them to this? It won’t be a bad idea to review history from time to time.”