As the dust settles on the Almaty 2 talks, the media is beginning to take a step back and wonder whether the current format of engagement with Iran is worth continuing. A worthy subject to ponder.
For some reason, too many in the media have already jumped on the bandwagon of sanctions relief as their recommended panacea. The excitement over a recent “report” issued by the pro-Iran lobby in the US – not to mention the conclusions of a new Carnegie document we mentioned in a recent post– are unmistakable.
So far we have yet to seen any media organ or think tank challenge Carnegie’s dubious claim that just because Iran has invested tons of cash in its WMD program, the international community has no choice but to let up. If financial investment in WMD was a factor to be considered in any global security crisis – certainly one of this magnitude – then the logical conclusion to be drawn is that North Korea and Syria should also be given slack.
We find even more incredulous this contention from the editors of Al-Monitor:
“The crises in the region — in Syria, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, to name a few where the United States has interests and Iran has influence — should be catalysts for urgent dialogue with Iran. That the P5+1-Iran talks have so far been limited to the nuclear file, with the region in such crisis and despair, should be setting off alarms that a new approach is required. “
For the record: The crisis is about the nuclear file, first and foremost. That’s why the international community is so deeply invested in it (apropos investment…). And even though there’s every reason – for the sake of global peace and security – to pressure Iran on its support for terrorism, promotion of subversion and human rights violations, still the potential for an Iranian bomb is what looms over the horizon and unifies the world.
Is Al-Monitor actually suggesting that Iran should be rewarded for approaching the bomb, propping up Assad the butcher, infiltrating Iraq and Afghanistan, establishing a state-within-a-state in Lebanon, and trying to foment a rebellion in Bahrain? We hope not….
Admittedly, it only confuses the issue when long-retired officials such as past IAEA head Hans Blix comes out of moth balls and casts aspersions on the content of reports issued by the very organization he once headed.
In view of the growing confusion, ,it seems a reminder is in order: Against the backdrop of endless violations of agreements by Tehran from 2003-2005 – as well as its rejection of two comprehensive P5+1 cooperation proposals which even offered security assurances – the international community has gradually incorporated an increasing number of “sticks” into its policy. These sticks became particularly weighty in the past year or two.
Through all this, the international community has maintained an admirable level of internal unity – despite the musings of former senior EU official Javier Solana, who has much to answer for as to why we are where we are today in the crisis.
The result: Tehran wants relief with growing desperation and seems to be indicating an initial willingness to make concessions. This was not the case even two years ago.
The problem with the current format of engagement with Iran, then, is not the carrot/stick approach or the scope of the agenda, but rather that the current strategy rests on the shaky foundations of an over-emphasis on confidence-building measures and an under-emphasis on nuclear prevention measures vis-à-vis Tehran. That’s what needs to be repaired – the sooner the better.