Missing the Point on Iran

Note to SecState Rice:

“Making token gestures”:http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2005&m=March&x=20050311173446xlrenneF1.122683e-02&t=livefeeds/wf-latest.html to support the EU3-Iran negotiations is only a really, really, weak beginning of a coherent Iran policy.

Look, Iran is being asked to do something that’s not legally required (i.e. give up its fuel cycle), so we have to provide serious incentives. I don’t think the WTO and aircraft parts incentives are going to cut it. Iranian officials, as well as “experts who have recently spoken”:http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A27108-2005Mar11?language=printer with said officials, seem to agree.

Let’s be clear: Washington needs to make it clear that a satisfactory EU-Iran agreement on the fuel cycle issue would be sufficient to keep the US from overthrowing the government in Tehran. The US still hasn’t done that.

For example, Rice would not say during her confirmation hearings that a verifiable fuel cycle agreement would get the US to do, well, anything. Instead, she listed other concerns (terrorism, human rights, etc.) that the administration also wants resolved. During her subsequent trip to Europe, Rice refused on several occasions to answer direct questions about whether the US has a policy of regime change.

Contrast that with Powell’s 10 December statement that “U.S. policy is not to advocate regime change in Iran.”

Now, maybe something is happening behind the scenes. I certainly hope so. But I fear that the charaterization of the US strategy “in the NYT”:http://nytimes.com/2005/03/11/politics/11iran.html?pagewanted=all is accurate.

Some officials in the Bush administration… see the president’s decision to dangle what amount to modest American economic incentives as part of an effort to speed along the negotiating process so that Iran’s intentions become clear.

At that point, in the view of hawks on the issue inside the White House and the Pentagon, the Europeans will be bound to take the issue to the Security Council. These officials would only speak anonymously because such delicate negotiations hang in the balance.

Notice that this US schtick _really_ looks like the same bad-faith diplomacy from the Iraq debacle. Even if the US gets its UNSC referral, it is far from certain that anything will happen if others think we aren’t serious about the process this time around.

Of course, then the US could well say “the UN sucks, we’ll do our own thing.” Then we could likely be facing a choice between another war or welcoming the next major nuclear-armed non-NATO ally.

Strong work.

2 thoughts on “Missing the Point on Iran

  1. Darius Kazemi

    As an Iranian I had a good laugh when heard about the incentives offered. I am sure that most Iranians as well as our Ali-Baba powered negotiators, do the same. The peaceful Iranian nuclear program, practically speaking, is none-negotiable. This is a historical reality and Europe and USA must learn to get use to it. The best thing is to make sure by UN inspection, that not only Iran’s, but every other countries’
    nuclear program leans towards peaceful purposes. D. Kazemi Toronto, Canada


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