Sunday, June 28, 2009

Post election US Iran nuclear policy comes into view

US policy, from Bush's term, and even previous to the beginning of Iran's current regime, has been that Iran must be prevented not only from having a weapon, but from having the capability to create a weapon.

This position, at least in terms of the legal responsibilities and guarantees of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has always been indefensible and is just as "ridiculous" now as it was on June 10 when John Kerry seemingly repudiated the Bush position.

While Susan Rice, Obama's Ambassador to the UN has used this "capacity" as opposed to "weapons" language before, her using it now after Kerry's repudiation of it and after the election indicates that US policy has reverted to the Bush policy.

Iranian factions that are more distrustful of the US may conclude that US policy never changed, but instead Barack Obama's job is to lie to Iranians and to the Muslim world in public, luring them into lowering their defenses, while in secret the US continues the same policies, including policies aimed at destabilizing Iran that were pursued by George W. Bush.

Talks without preconditions are not a step forward in resolving the nuclear dispute unless the US has changed its position and is willing to allow enrichment on Iranian soil. Susan Rice seems to indicate that the US perceives the post-election protests to show that there is division in Iran that the US may be able to exploit to accomplish Bush's objective of Iran giving up enrichment.

"Something extraordinary has happened of late in Iran, and the popular discontent, the incredible diversity of the coalition that has come together to demand change, from women to the elderly to youth, the very religious to the more secular, has been quite extraordinary."

It really is not that extraordinary that the supporters of the side of an election that lost could be convinced without any material evidence that they really won, or that the anger from this supposedly stolen victory could lead to large demonstrations.

But beyond being an incorrect reading of the meaning of the protests, if this misreading leads the US to take a more hard-line position on Iran's nuclear program, it will be to the detriment of both Iran's people and the US.

Iran has calculated for a while that if there is to be a confrontation with the US over its nuclear program, Iran will win, even though Iran will have to endure difficulty before it is over. The election has not changed that calculation.

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