The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for November 23, 2010:
  • The Wall Street Journal: The WSJ‘s Jay Solomon writes on North Korea’s reported upgrades to its nuclear-fuel production capabilities and the increasing fears among lawmakers that Pyongyang may provide Iran with assistance in its nuclear program. “One has to assume that Iran either has the P-2 centrifuge from North Korea, or could get it very easily,” said Simon Henderson, a proliferation expert at the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). Solomon ends his article with the acknowledgement that it is unclear which country is actually more advanced in its nuclear program: “Nuclear experts also noted that North Korea could be facing similar technical difficulties as Iran in operating the equipment.”
  • Los Angeles Times: Former UN ambassador and American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Senior Fellow John Bolton opines on North Korea’s new enrichment plant. “There is substantial reason for concern that Tehran’s capabilities and its penchant for cooperating with the North exceed U.S. intelligence estimates,” Bolton warns. “The spinning of North Korea-related intelligence in recent years bears an uneasy similarity to the famously distorted 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” he adds, calling on the new Congress to investigate “such politicization of intelligence.”
  • Pajamas Media: Foundation for Defense of Democracies scholar¬†Michael Ledeen scribbles on his “Faster, Please!” blog, in a typically scatter-shot post, that the regime in Iran is on the verge of collapse. “The Iranian dissidents have demonstrated remarkable courage and tenacity, and the Green strategy of maintaining pressure on the regime, hoping to eventually provoke its implosion, may succeed,” writes Ledeen. He comments on the government’s stalled efforts to cut off gas subsidies and on a recent pronouncement by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi about non-violent protests scheduled to take place on the upcoming Student’s Day in Iran. Ledeen’s message of solidarity with — and call for overt support of — Iran’s Green Movement belies the diversity of the opposition. This is particularly noticeable in his praise of Mousavi, who has emerged as a clear reformer, not a regime opponent. Ledeen veers into wild conspiratorial accusations of an Iranian arms shipment through Nigeria/Gambia to Afghanistan, which does not jibe with a simple glance at a map.

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.