May 20, 2012

IT'S NOT AS IF THERE'S ANY DOWNSIDE FOR IRAN:

Heading Into Talks With Iran, U.S. Sees Hopeful Signs (MARK LANDLER, 5/18/12, NY Times)

[A]merican officials said that at a minimum, the Baghdad meeting should be a genuine test of Iran's willingness to do more than talk. "They're nervous enough to talk," said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the negotiations. "Whether they're nervous enough to act, we don't know yet." Another senior official said, "We have a tail wind going into this."

For President Obama, the stakes are huge. A successful meeting could prolong the diplomatic dance with Tehran, delaying any possible military confrontation over the nuclear program until after the presidential election. It could also keep a lid on oil prices, which fell again this week in part because of the decrease in tensions. Lower gasoline prices would aid the economic recovery in the United States, and Mr. Obama's electoral prospects.

In a sign of the increased diplomatic efforts, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that its director general, Yukiya Amano, would travel to Tehran on Sunday to try to negotiate access to a military site where Iran is suspected of having conducted tests on nuclear-weapons triggers. It would be the first visit by the agency's head to Iran since 2009, and it could add to the momentum in Baghdad.

"The Iranians are in the position of needing to pursue diplomacy, if anything, even more than they did before," said Dennis B. Ross, one of Mr. Obama's senior advisers on Iran until last year and now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "It's not like they have any other good news right now."
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Posted by at May 20, 2012 9:05 AM
  

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