News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 29, 2010.
- The National Interest: Ted Galen Carpenter writes that while the Obama administration has said it wants to use diplomacy to bring an end to Iran’s nuclear program, Washington’s negotiating strategy casts doubts on the administration’s sincerity. He remarks that the latest U.S. and European offer, as it currently stands, “includes conditions that are tougher than those contained in the version that the Ayatollah Ali Kamanei rejected last year.” He identifies two possible reasons: the P5+1 might have no interested in a negotiated settlement or that European American policymakers are confident the sanctions regime is “beginning to bite” so the Iranians are ready to capitulate. “If the former explanation is true, the conduct of Washington and its allies is both reprehensible and dangerous,” and “if the latter explanation is true, Western negotiators may be overestimating—perhaps wildly overestimating—the impact of the latest round of sanctions,” concludes Galen. He proposes that if Obama is sincere in pursuing a settlement, then concessions and compromise are required, and “not the State Department’s version of macho posturing.”
- The Jerusalem Post: Hilary Leila Krieger reports on the Obama administration’s attempts to revise the uranium enrichment deal with Tehran that collapsed last year as a “confidence-building step” to move forward talks it hopes to reconvene in November . The original proposal, negotiated in Vienna last October, involved Iran sending most of its enriched uranium to France and Russia for further enrichment. Mark Dubowitz, the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies‘ Iran expert, yet again endorses crippling sanctions and warns Iran will probably just use the negotiations as a stalling technique. This has been his consistent meme in numerous op-eds and interviews. “The sanctions are clearly inflicting serious damage on the Iranian economy and forcing the regime to implement measures to counter the impact of sanctions,” Dubowitz assessed. “Some of these countermeasures, like massive reductions in subsidies for gasoline and other commodities, could be economically disastrous and further fan the flames of political discontent.” “I think the Iranian regime genuinely believes [it] can withstand the economic and political pressure,” he concluded.
- Time: Vivienne Walt writes that while U.S. and European sanctions appear to be having an effect on Iran’s economy, Iran still has many economic allies and “even the U.S.’s close allies in Europe have stopped short of cutting their relations with Iran.” While Iran’s trade relationships with the West continues to be challenged by sanctions, Iran is expanding its alliances with Asian countries eager to access Iran’s oil and take on the contracts abandoned by departing Western companies. “Despite that flexibility in the sanctions, many European politicians believe that the U.S. has strong-armed them into following Washington’s demands on Iran,” and companies are under pressure to cut ties with Iran, even if not required to do so by their governments. “Because the U.S. has Iran on a blacklist, the rest of the world has to follow,” a Swiss investment manager told Walt. “What makes it a shady country anyway? Because the U.S. says so? The U.S. is trying to corner other countries.”