The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 29:

  • The Wall Street Journal: Benoit Faucon and Spencer Swartz report on Iran’s announcement on Tuesday that it would begin exporting domestically refined gasoline. Iran has depended heavily on imported gasoline in the past. Yesterday’s announcement sends a message of defiance about international sanctions as well as an indicating that Iran has significantly boosted its domestic refinery capacity. “Iran has achieved self-sufficiency in production of gasoline,” said Ali Ashgar Arshi, the international affairs director at the National Iranian Oil Co. It also appears timed to echo statements from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the new sanctions have only made Iran stronger.
  • The Weekly Standard Blog: Bill Kristol posts an excerpt from the prepared text of Joe Lieberman’s speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations. Lieberman will say, “It would also be a failure of U.S. leadership if this situation reaches the point where the Israelis decide to attempt a unilateral strike. If military action must come, the United States is in the strongest position to confront Iran and manage the regional consequences. This is not a responsibility we should outsource.” “It is time to retire our ambiguous mantra about all options remaining on the table. Our message to our friends and enemies in the region needs to become clearer: namely, that we will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability — by peaceful means if we possibly can, but with military force if we absolutely must,” concludes Lieberman.
  • Commentary: Daniel Gordis, senior vice president of Jerusalem’s Shalem Center, writes in the October issue of Commentary on “The Other Existential Threat,” that it’s not only the possibility of an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that poses a threat — but more existentially — the potential of Iran possessing such a bomb. For such a potential to hang over Israel’s head, he fears Jews will revert back “to the status of European victims-in-waiting,” “dependent on the choices their enemies make.” In outlining what is at stake for Israel, Gordis does not believe Israeli leaders will allow Iran to go nuclear and concludes: “If Barack Obama could come to understand in precisely what way this is a matter that goes to the heart of Israel’s very existence […] his administration might recognize the profound nature of the present moment and history’s call to this president to do what must be done.”
  • Spiegel Online: In a contentious interview, Iran’s nuclear agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi says that Iran “will not give up [its] guaranteed right to enrich uranium to a low level for civilian purposes” and accuses the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, of being biased against Iran. Salehi says he is not threatening to end cooperation with the IAEA, but is issuing a “friendly, but serious, warning that one should not allow oneself to be politically instrumentalized.” He considers the MEK’s allegations about a covert nuclear facility an “unjustified allegation,” and maintains Iran is still open to a deal to acquire fuel rods for its Tehran Research Reactor.

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.