January 11, 2014
SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY:
Iran looking beyond the nuclear issue (Shahir Shahid Saless, 6 Jan, 2014, asharq al-awsat)
Posted by Orrin Judd at January 11, 2014 9:57 AMThe economic pressures resulting from the sanctions undoubtedly played an important role in shaping Tehran's flexibility. However, it should also be noted that the inclusion of the issue of uranium enrichment was fundamental. As stated in the agreement's preamble, the parties have committed to "[reaching] a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution" that "would involve a mutually defined enrichment program with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the program." Would such a monumental agreement have been possible without the inclusion of the issue of enrichment? President Obama's recent statements on the issue may help shed some light.At the annual Saban Forum on December 7, 2013, Obama remarked, "You'll hear arguments . . . that say we can't accept any enrichment on Iranian soil. Period. Full stop. End of conversation . . . One can envision an ideal world in which Iran said: 'We'll destroy every element and facility and you name it, it's all gone.'" Then the US president sarcastically quipped, "I can envision a world in which Congress passed every one of my bills that I put forward. I mean, there are a lot of things that I can envision that would be wonderful." These statements show that the US administration has concluded that a 'no enrichment in Iran' policy precludes any agreement with the Iranians.So the Geneva Accord is not only the product of sanctions on Iran; the re-positioning of American policies has also played a prominent role.Despite some disagreement between the administration and a faction in Congress, this new US approach to relations with Iran may well have an impact beyond the nuclear issue, on a much wider strategic level.Amir Mohebbian, considered a prominent strategist and theorist of the Principlists, or conservatives, in Iran, wrote a paper two years ago entitled: 'Scenarios of possible threats against Iran.' The article garnered little attention. However, it was significant enough to be published on the website of Iran's current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Such placement indicated endorsement of the research by Iran's leadership. Mohebbian wrote: "The Iranian leadership . . . has demonstrated that it is not seeking to pursue the 'hostility for hostility' thesis. If there is a change in the behavior of the United States, Iran will consider it."Now following the perceived drastic change in the US position toward Iran's nuclear program, there are indications that Tehran may be prepared to take the next step in crossing its decades-old 'red line' of no relations with the US.In an article in December, The Christian Science Monitor's Middle East correspondent Scott Peterson quoted Mohebbian's unprecedented view: "This is the last opportunity of shifting from the first generation to the second generation of leaders . . . and the [Supreme] Leader wants to solve the issue of the US under his leadership."