Why hasn’t Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, agreed to the offer the West put on the table in Vienna last month in negotiations over the country’s nuclear activities? If he were simply motivated by economics, he certainly should have.
Iran’s fully accessible hard-currency reserves are low, perhaps below $20 billion. Even within the limitations of the Joint Plan of Action concluded in November, Tehran has received around $4.2 billion in cash relief from unfrozen hard-currency accounts. Another $2.8 billion is forthcoming with the plan’s four-month extension. Billions more have been gained indirectly since the United States and Europe ceased escalating sanctions; one can see the effects through the halving of Iran’s inflation rate, the stabilization of its exchange rate and an increase in gross national product.… Seguir leyendo »
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is lying when he says the Islamic Republic has never had any intention of building an atomic weapon. Defecting Iranian nuclear engineers told U.S. officials in the late 1980s that the mullahs’ program, then hidden, was designed exclusively for such arms. Everything Western intelligence services have tracked since then matches those early revelations.
U.S. participation in the upcoming negotiations doesn’t appear to be premised on an expectation of Iranian veracity. If it were, President Obama wouldn’t send his secretary of state until Tehran had come clean about its past deceits. The exemplary behavior of South Africa’s often-mendacious apartheid government when it decided to go non-nuclear — total transparency about the militarization of its atomic program — isn’t expected from Iran.… Seguir leyendo »
Wednesday’s meeting on Iran’s nuclear program will be a competition of fears. Who is sufficiently terrified of an atom bomb in Iranian hands to credibly threaten military action? Who fears the immediate economic consequences of Persian petroleum coming off the market more than the longer-term menace of a nuclear-armed state that supports terrorism? Who dreads above all else an Israeli preemptive strike?
The West’s sanctions — the reason the Iranians are showing up in Iraq — have been an alternative to war. Those who want these talks to go on will be enormously tempted to make concessions to Tehran. Stand too firm and Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, might walk.… Seguir leyendo »
On May 28, 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson penned a passionate article in the London Observer, drawing attention to the plight of two Portuguese students who had delivered a toast calling for democratic reform in their country and were promptly carted off to prison for defying dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. Benenson wrote in that article: “Open your newspaper any day of the week, and you will find a report from somewhere in the world of someone being imprisoned, tortured or executed because his opinions or religion are unacceptable to his government…. The newspaper reader feels a sickening sense of impotence.… Seguir leyendo »