THE PROBLEMS RELATING TO A PERSIAN NUCLEAR DEAL: A COMMENT
"Israel does retain one option for stymying the negotiations if they appear to be heading for what Israelis would view as a bad deal, one that would allow Iran to escape sanctions and creep closer to a bomb. That is for Israel to attack Iranian nuclear sites. Its ability to do so is already being narrowed considerably by the diplomatic thaw, because it is one thing to bomb Iran when it appears hopelessly recalcitrant and isolated and quite another to bomb it when much of the world -- especially the United States -- is optimistic about the prospect of talks. A window for an Israeli attack might open up if the talks bogged down and Western negotiators suggested that the Iranians were refusing to compromise, perhaps speculating that the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards did not want a deal after all. But Rouhani and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, are probably too smart to allow such pessimism to creep into Western ranks. In short, the Israelis find themselves in a far worse position now than they have been for several years. There was no way for them to avoid this situation other than attacking last year; bombing Iran when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president would have been more defensible in the court of global public opinion. Now they must fix bleak smiles to their lips and say that they hope for the best -- all the while wringing their hands about the likely terms of the deal. Given that Israel may have little ability to persuade the Western negotiators to be tough, its best path for now is to appeal to Americans, especially in Congress, to refuse to lift sanctions until Iran makes significant concessions.... The Israelis have a difficult task ahead. They do not wish to play the bad cop role in an American game with Iran -- and, in fact, the metaphor is misleading. In the good cop/bad cop routine, both officers are on the same team and are carefully coordinating their approaches. In this case, the Israelis fear, the bad cop wants to see the criminals jailed, and the good cop is open to a sweet plea bargain. If that’s what the Iranians get, they will sit back and smile while the United States and Israel end up in a bitter argument".Elliott Abrams, "Bibi the Bad Cop: Can Israel Prevent a Deal With Iran?" Foreign Affairs. 3 October 2013, in www.foreignaffairs.com. "
President Obama would be crazy not to dive deep into diplomacy with Iran, right now. Forget the standard throat-clearing bromides and water-testing toe-dips that mark the resumption of relations with suspect characters. When the world’s leaders meet at the U.N. General Assembly next week, Obama should not only shake hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani but also meet with him privately, hand him a list of a dozen issues to discuss (uranium enrichment, sanctions, regional stability, etc.), and even be prepared to announce, if possible, a time and place for negotiations to begin and a roster of the delegates to be invited. If Rouhani is who he claims to be—an Iranian moderate who has the authority to strike a bargain on nuclear programs and economic sanctions (at least until hardliners lose patience with him)—then this is an opportunity no Western leader can pass up. If it’s all a ruse, or if the mullahs overrule whatever deal emerges, there’s no harm in trying. In fact, if things go bad and Western leaders feel compelled to respond with tighter sanctions or military action, they could do so with greater legitimacy after having given the high road a chance. In any case, it does little good to sit around and debate the potential truth of Rouhani’s proclamations or the nature of Iranian politics, about which any outsider’s knowledge is limited. Rouhani has put his statements on the table. No Iranian president, in the entire revolutionary period, has said anything remotely this appealing. He has appointed, in Mohammad Javad Zarif, a foreign minister whose known views are consistent with these statements. Iran’s economy is in such a tailspin that the regime—including the mullahs who are ultimately in charge—may be willing to trade some things of value for an end to the U.S.-imposed sanctions."Fred Kaplan, "Take a Chance on Iran: President Obama would be crazy not to seize the opportunity that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has given him". Slate. 20 September 2013, in www.slate.com. The issues involved in the concrete negotiations between the USA, the other Western powers and Persia over the latter's nuclear programme are fraught with difficulties and intricacies. As the always wise, David Albright of the Institute of Science and International Security recently recounted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
"Some concessions may be obligatory if an agreement is to succeed. It is imperative to determine the critical concessions and the risks posed by omitting others as soon as possible" 1.The real issue is whether any agreement will effectively prevent Persia from having an easy to access, 'break-out capability', which it can employ at any time of its choosing. Or per contra, whether any agreement will result in effective safeguards which will prevent the regime of Mullahs from being able to produce a nuclear weapon at a time of their own volition. As Albright notes and has noted in the past:
"It is instructive to consider that Iran is now sticking by its story that it never had a nuclear weapons program and this would not satisfy the IAEA in its investigation about past and possibly on-going nuclear weapons work. In this case, there would remain significant suspicions about whether Iran is maintaining a capability to build nuclear weapons" 2.Ergo, Persia and Persians cannot on the face of it be trusted to employ the truth and any agreement should be such that there will be independently verifiable means of ascertaining Persian compliance. In the absence of any such mechanism, any agreement with Persia will not be worth the paper that it is written on. Pur et simple. The crux of the negotiations to come is whether the moderates in the Persian regime have been given carte blanche to truly negotiate a solution to Persia's nuclear conundrum or not. All the pour parlers in the world are not going to resolve anything unless the regime in Tehran is willing to truly negotiate away, for of course tangible concessions by the Western Powers, its nuclear weapons capability. In short, in the current Near East, the Sphinx is not located in Egypt but in Tehran. 1. David Albright, "Testimony of David Albright Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Reversing Iran’s Nuclear Program: Understanding Iran’s Nuclear Program and Technically Assessing Negotiating Positions." The Institute of Science and International Security. October 3, 2013 in http://isis-online.org 2. Ibid.