Tuesday, January 28, 2014


"While our negotiators are working hard to get a final nuclear agreement with Iran that meets our requirements, we must be prepared for the possibility that negotiations will fail and the Iranians will then direct their efforts toward eroding sanctions and advancing their nuclear program. The opening created by President Hassan Rouhani’s overtures would close. In this scenario, Iran would reject any extension of the current interim agreement, portray itself publicly as having been the reasonable side in the talks, reach out aggressively to governments and companies around the world to entice them to circumvent or ignore sanctions, and ramp up nuclear activities that have been frozen under the interim deal. We should seek to head off this scenario by keeping the pressure on Iran to accept a final agreement along the lines of our proposal. That will involve three priorities: (1) continuing to urge governments and companies to enforce existing sanctions, (2) showing additional flexibility within the delegation’s existing instructions to avoid an Iranian narrative that we are the intransigent party, and (3) maintaining a strong consensus among the P5+1 governments and the broader international sanctions coalition that the rigorous measures necessary to make a deal acceptable to us are reasonable, fair and essential to a sound agreement. At the same time, we need to prepare for the possibility that no agreement will be reached and Iran will attempt to turn that eventuality to their advantage. To thwart that attempt, we would have to ensure that Iran bears the onus for any breakdown of the talks. We would also want to work with Congress to adopt additional sanctions, urge key states (including Russia and China) to press Iran not to further advance its nuclear program, and convey a clear message to Iran that movement toward or across the nuclear threshold would be met by a firm international response that could involve much stronger sanctions and perhaps more coercive measures".
Robert Einhorn & Kenneth M. Pollack, "BIG BETS & BLACK SWANS - Memorandum to the President Iran Nuclear Talks Fail." The Brookings Institute. 23 January 2014, in www.brookings.edu.
"Iran [Persia] has long harbored ambitions to become the superpower of the Persian Gulf. That prospect is not as improbable today as in the past. In recent years, despite the severe constraints imposed by a chaotic internal situation, Iran has managed a complex and dangerous set of international relationships with boldness, sangfroid and a considerable measure of success."
Gary Sick,"Iran's Quest for Superpower Status." Foreign Affairs. (Spring 1987): p. 697.
The Einhorn and Pollack memorandum highlights the fact that the nuclear negotiations with the regime in Persia might very well fail. Either fail immediately or fail after a prolonged period of time. It would be of course be in the interest of the regime in Teheran, if a decision was made by the mad Mullahs to not come to an agreement to endeavor to allow the negotiations to be excessively prolonged and delayed. Hoping that by giving the appearance of being reasonable and moderate, that the world-wide consensus against the Persian programme will break-up. Indeed, as the almost giddy reception of the moderate-seeming Persian President Rouhani at the Davos Summit last week as noted by the Financial Times commentator Gideon Rachman underlines 1. And as the always wise, Institute for Science and International Security noted recently, the concrete provisions for any agreement which safeguards Western interest as it relates to non-proliferation call for a considerable degree of monitoring of Persian compliance:
"The above provisions collectively should represent a fundamental part of a final, comprehensive solution that can ensure that Iran will not obtain nuclear weapons. Once the necessary verification conditions are added, any Iranian attempt to seek nuclear weapons will be detected in a timely manner, providing enough time to allow an international response that would prevent Iran from succeeding in acquiring nuclear weapons. Critical to this approach is that the United States must remain ready for many years to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The duration of the provisions, namely twenty years, is viewed as a minimum amount of time to develop confidence that Iran can be treated in the same manner as other non-nuclear weapon states in good standing with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 2."
One does not have to be as pessimistic as Matthew Kroenig about the outline of the proposed agreement to recognize that finalizing the same with the regime in Persia will not be easy 3. With that being said however, I do believe that there is a window open to negotiate and conclude a good agreement. As Gary Sick noted back in 1987, fundamentally, the foreign policy of the regime in Persia is determined by its domestic politics:
"The one cardinal rule the United State has learned or should have learned---from its eight years of experience with revolutionary Iran, is that Iranian foreign policy is produced and conditioned by the hard imperatives of domestic politics in Teheran 4."
Meaning that if the Western powers keep the pressure on, nay indeed increase the pressure of both diplomatic and economic sanctions then and only then will the regime of Mullahs knuckle under to the pressure. To believe as some appear to believe in Davos last wek, that this regime of fanatics will respond to the siren voices of sweet reason is (to quote Neville Chamberlain) 'the very mid-summer of madness'.
1. Gideon Rachman, "Shinzo Abe and Hassan Rouhani delight Davos." The Financial Times. 24 January 2014 in www.ft.com.
2. "ISIS Report: Defining Iranian Nuclear Programs in a Comprehensive Solution under the Joint Plan of Action." Institute for Science and International Security 15 January 2014, in www.isis-online.org.
3. Matthew Koenig, "Still Time to Attack Iran: the Illusion of a Comprehensive Nuclear Deal." Foreign Affairs. 7 January 2014, in www.foreignaffairs.com.
4. Sick, op. cit., p. 698.


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