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Monday, March 18, 2013

Vali Nasr, "Why Iran May Be Ready to Deal": Believing in the Tooth Fairy

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Why Iran May Be Ready to Deal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/18/opinion/why-iran-may-be-ready-to-deal.html?_r=0), Vali Nasr, dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, writes:

"FOR the first time since 2009, there may be signs of a break in the deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran entered the latest talks with a slightly softened position. That is good news, but the United States will have to change its negotiating strategy to take advantage of it.

Economic sanctions are biting hard in Iran. Meanwhile, its strategic position is crumbling because of the turmoil in its ally Syria and the rise of militant Sunni Islamism throughout the Arab Middle East. Together, these forces seem to have forced Iran to reconsider its own bargaining position.

So rather than strengthen sanctions another notch, America should give Iran a little tit for tat: begin negotiating directly, and put on the table the prospect of lifting sanctions, one by one, as bargaining chips."

Now compare Nasr's thesis with a lead article in yesterday's Washington Post entitled "Despite sanctions’ toll on Iran, U.S. sees no shift in nuclear behavior" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/despite-sanctions-toll-on-iran-us-sees-no-shift-in-nuclear-behavior/2013/03/17/d23b3b6a-8dad-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html?hpid=z1) by Joby Warrick and Anne Gearan:

"Harsh economic sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy, but U.S. and European officials acknowledge that the measures have not yet produced the kind of public unrest that could force Iranian leaders to change their nuclear policies.

Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation’s economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.

At the same time, the hardships have not triggered significant domestic protests or produced a single concession by Iran on its nuclear program. Although weakened, Iran has resisted Western pressure through a combination of clever tactics, political repression and old-fashioned stubbornness, analysts say."

It's been clear since Obama's initial Nowruz overtures to the mullahs in 2009 that Iran has no intention of halting its nuclear weapons development program, regardless of the economic damage. As reported by The Tehran Times in 2012 (http://www.tehrantimes.com/politics/96949-iran-has-no-intention-to-halt-20-enrichment-jalili):

"The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, has said that Tehran does not intend to stop producing uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent.

Jalili, who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, made the remarks during a press conference in Istanbul on Saturday after two rounds of talks between representatives of Iran and the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany), which ended a 15-month hiatus in talks."

Regarding the position of Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei, Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com/irans-top-leader-unhappy-nuclear-talks-180459305.html) reported earlier this month:

"Iran's top leader said on Thursday that the West failed to offer any concessions during the latest talks aimed at resolving a standoff over Tehran's nuclear program.

Remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which were broadcast on Iranian state TV, were his first public comments on last week's talks with the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.

'The Westerners did not do any substantial work that could be interpreted as concessions,' said Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters. 'They, minimally, admitted part of (the) rights of the Iranian nation, only.'"

Will Iran continue to talk as they build their first nuclear weapon? They will talk until the cows come home. But will Iran halt its nuclear development program? Not a snowball's chance in hell.

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