May 30, 2006


Khamenei in control and ready to 'haggle' (Gareth Porter, 5/31/06, Asia Times)

Despite Ahmadinejad's clever exploitation of the nuclear issue to strengthen his domestic political position, he is playing second fiddle on this issue.

Ahmadinejad "doesn't have much to do with the nuclear issue", David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, the most experienced US non-governmental expert on Iran's nuclear program, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty immediately after the Iranian president's election. Albright observed that the policy on Iran's nuclear program is run by the Supreme National Security Council "directly under the Supreme Leader" (Khamenei).

At a briefing in Washington last week, Hadi Semati, a professor at Tehran University who is now a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, said Ahmadinejad "is third in command" after Khamenei and the Supreme National Security Council. Khamenei and the council, he said, "are not going to let the president decide anything on the nuclear issue".

The Supreme National Security Council includes representatives appointed by the Supreme Leader as well as top officials from the military, foreign affairs, intelligence and other national-security-related agencies, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It determines national-defense and security policies on the basis of general guidelines laid down by the Supreme Leader.

Khamenei has not hesitated to set the record straight when Ahmadinejad has strayed from the foreign-policy line he and the Supreme National Security Council have set.

This scenario is much more credible than the Times's yesterday. Ahmedinejad is delusional enough to think Iran is going to develop nukes and threaten the world while the Ayatollah recognizes a good bargaining chip with which to normalize relations with America and salvahe the wreckage of their economy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2006 2:27 PM

We should do nothing - things are starting to percolate there. And W should help it along and not recognize the rulers legitimacy

Posted by: Sandy P at May 30, 2006 4:04 PM

Let them work it out among themselves.

Posted by: erp at May 30, 2006 4:23 PM

Bush should talk with them, but only if they allow him to address Iranians directly first.

It's the perfect "Tear down this wall" moment.

Posted by: Bruno at May 30, 2006 7:30 PM