In an amazing display of very late-night– or very early-morning– blogging, Laura Rozen put a post up this morning showcasing a Reuters report that Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna Ali Asghar Soltanieh had “announced Iran’s readiness to take part in any negotiations with the West based on mutual respect.”
She walked her first report back a bit, after Iran’s Press TV reported that Soltanieh said “”There have been no comments or interviews with TV networks on nuclear talks or conditions.” (Which is not a complete rebuttal of what Rozen first reported.)
Rozen has more about all the “will they, won’t they?” speculation about Iran’s future actions that is rife in the Washington political elite that’s both inside and outside the administration. (Sometimes, outside, but close to it.)
The current focus is whether Tehran will send someone to the proposed talks on the nuclear issue that Washington wants to see held before the UNGA session opens at the end of September.
As usual, one of the smartest remarks comes from Trita Parsi, whom Rozen quotes as saying,
- I don’t think worst case is that they don’t show up… They’ll show up. The worst case scenario is that they show up but they are incapable of making any big decisions because of political infighting in Iran.
This is precisely the fear I’ve had since I first articulated it eight days after the June 12 elections.
The “end of September” deadline is one the Obama administration has been pretty insistent on. It is related primarily to the “understandings” the administration seems to have reached with the (nuclear-armed) government of Israel, to the effect that Washington will try to squeeze significant concessions out of Tehran before the end of the year… and if that doesn’t work, then Washington will push hard for much tighter international sanctions against Iran and possibly other potentially even more hostile acts.
The end of September deadline does not, however, take into account either the now-imminent incidence of Ramadan or the continuing, long-drawn-out deadlock in the internal power struggle inside Iran’s theocratic governance institutions.
Insisting on the deadline, or taking concrete policy steps that further escalate the west’s tensions with Iran, would be most likely to strengthen the hardliners inside Tehran/Qom.
Another inescapable factor in this is, of course, that Washington no longer occupies the uncontested Uber-power position at the pinnacle of the global system that it occupied even three or four years ago. To get any significant strengthening of the international sanctions regime against Tehran requires the concurrence of, at the very least, all the other members of the Security Council’s P-5.
At a time of increasing American dependence on (inter-dependence with) both Russia and China– not to mention the NATO allies– that is far from a foregone conclusion.
Rozen does some good reporting (and some that’s not so good.) But she does seem to operate these days almost totally within the DC policy bubble, and too seldom looks at the broader dimensions of world affairs within which the US’s foreign policy operates.