Iran In Brief

NYT gets inside U.S. Iran policy

NYT gets inside U.S. Iran policy photo

August 4, 2009

Roger Cohen has a characteristically excellent, insidery piece in this Sunday’s NYT magazine detailing the Obama admin’s Iran policy deliberations, with a focus on the role of Dennis Ross.  It hints at some of the dysfunction one might expect of policy making on an issue with so many heavyweights—in addition to Ross, there is Bill Burns, Under Secretary of State, Tom Donilon, Gary Samore and Puneet Talwar all at NSC.  To those skeptical of Ross’s ability to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran given perceptions that he is too close to the U.S. Jewish community, note the words of Nasser Hadian, an Iranian academic recently at Columbia University but now in Tehran and a member of a group of experts meeting regularly to advise Rafsanjani.  Hadian says:

“And because I know we cannot normalize unless Israeli concerns are addressed, I’ve argued that Ross would be an important assurance, someone able to convince the American Jewish lobby that any eventual agreement is workable.” That view, he suggested, had gained some traction in Tehran.”

A couple of other highlights:  The zero-enrichment option remains official policy though there is talk of nonzero options, including perhaps a small enrichment facility for research purposes.  A limitary strike by Israel is seen as the worst possible outcome, “it would inflame the region … and sabotage (Obama’s) outreach to the Muslim world, while perhaps only delaying Iran’s nuclear program a year or two.”  Cohen also mentions the Bush era covert program to sabotage Iran’s centrifuges through its trade networks, which could be revived and “used as an argument to the Israelis to hold off any military action.”

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