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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Deadline for Iran?

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the United States and the Europeans have placed an early October deadline to determine whether 'engagement' with Iran is working. But don't get your hopes up. They're not going to attack Iran if engagement doesn't work. Just some more ineffective sanctions.
They also are developing specific benchmarks to gauge Iranian behavior. Those include whether Tehran is willing to let United Nations monitors make snap inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities that are now off-limits, and whether it will agree to a "freeze for freeze" -- halting uranium enrichment in return for holding off on new economic sanctions -- as a precursor to formal negotiations.

The moves are partly driven by concerns in Israel and among Washington's Arab allies that Tehran could drag out negotiations indefinitely while advancing its nuclear program, the officials said.
Please note that it's not just Israel that's concerned. It's also 'America's Arab allies,' which means Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, probably Iraq and some of the Gulf countries. You know, the ones that Mohamed ElBaradei thinks will back Iran's developing a nuclear weapon if Israel destroys Iran's current iteration of a nuclear program. More on that in a little bit.
The U.S. Congress is debating legislation that would require the White House to sanction companies exporting refined petroleum products to Iran. Tehran imports roughly 40% of its gasoline despite having some of the largest energy supplies in the world.
But that would only affect the United States. What would those sanctions be? What about petroleum companies who don't sell to the US market anyway?Admittedly, this is the best sanctions legislation I've seen yet. But why did Congress put it on hold last week?
U.S. officials say gaining Russian and Chinese support for sanctioning Iran through the United Nations is a key plank of their diplomacy. Moscow and Beijing criticized the Bush administration for not talking directly to Tehran. Now the U.S. wants a commitment on sanctions from these states if negotiations founder.
But Obama is talking to Iran without conditions. What incentives do the Russians and the Chinese have to play along?

Oh, and about those Arab allies and the timing of this announcement....
Israel and key Arab allies have voiced concerns about the usefulness of diplomacy with Iran. The U.S. point man on Iran policy, Dennis Ross, was greeted with skepticism from Arab allies during a tour this month through Egypt and the Persian Gulf countries, said U.S. officials. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates., in particular, have expressed alarm over Iran's nuclear activities and its moves to support militant groups operating in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

Israel believes Tehran could be far enough advanced in its nuclear work by early next year to make protracted negotiations moot. Last week, Brig Gen. Michael Herzog, chief of staff to Israel's defense minister, publicly called at a conference in Washington for the Obama administration to set clear timetables and benchmarks for its Iran diplomacy. He reiterated statements by new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government that Jerusalem might take military action against Iran to end its nuclear threat.

"When we say a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, we mean it," Mr. Herzog said. "When we say all options are on the table, we mean it."

Iran's nuclear program is expected to be a major point of discussion between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Obama on Monday in Washington. Israel has called ending Iran's nuclear program its No. 1 foreign-policy issue.
But Mohamed ElBaradei thinks that if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear program, the Saudis will back an Iranian nuclear weapon. It seems more likely that the Saudis will be handing out candy in the streets of Riyadh.


At 2:23 AM, Blogger Alpha3958 said...

the Iranians are used to American deadlines, America has set many deadlines in the past.

At 4:04 AM, Blogger Jon Brooks said...

"Okay Imadinnerjacket..this is deadline threat # 2,345,658 and if you don't play ball with us this time we'll get REALLY nasty and issue threat # 2,345,659!".

At 6:44 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Deadline? Iran will believe in one when Israel does more than just talk!


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