The nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers resume on March 5 in an atmosphere both strained and heavily charged: the debate over US President Barack Obama’s Iran policy is still raging, Iran is still ranting about the Islamic State’s “Western creators” while arming militias from Lebanon to Iraq and in the thick of it all, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Washington to tell Congress the agreement currently on the negotiating table is not just a “bad” deal, but a “very bad” one, one the world is better off without.
Now, with said agreement, or at least a framework for one, actually within reach, the press is pulling out all the stops and revealing exactly what it thinks of the whole affair: the months-long talks, the Western approach to them and what Iran really hopes to get out of it all. On the heels of every report of “progress” come reports of yet more concessions, shrouding the talks in even more controversy and eliciting yet more ominous warnings of “the potential catastrophe of the emerging deal” and “the end of nonproliferation” from conservative commentators.
But not everyone sees the deal (impending or otherwise) as, well, such a big deal. Reporting from Istanbul, the International Business Times’s Erin Banco wrote that in the Middle East, the immediacy of the Iranian threat pales in comparison to that of ISIS (we wonder what Saudi Arabia has to say about that). And on Vox, Max Fisher wrote a lengthy analysis of the “real” motivations behind Iran’s push for a deal that would still allow it to retain some nuclear capacity. The bottom line? Iran does want nukes, but only as a deterrent (against the United States and even Iraq, which Iran now seems well on the way to controlling – by military means), only to increase its regional influence (as if it isn’t doing well enough on that front already), and never to attack anyone. Even this generous analysis of Iran is far from Tehran’s claim of developing nuclear energy for civilian use only and will still find it difficult to explain the nuclear warhead capability of the ICBMs, which are not “on the negotiation table” at all.