January 22, 2007


Iran's strongman loses grip as ayatollah offers nuclear deal (Marie Colvin and Leila Asgharzadeh, 1/21/07, Times Online)

Alarmed by mounting US pressure and United Nations sanctions, officials close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei favour the appointment of a more moderate team for international negotiations on the supervision of its nuclear facilities.

The move would be a snub to the bellicose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose threats to destroy Israel have left Iran increasingly isolated and facing a serious economic downturn.

Tehran sources said the impetus for a policy switch was coming from Khamenei, who has ultimate power over Iran's foreign policy, security and armed forces. [...]

In a sign that his power is waning, Iranian MPs have criticised Ahmadinejad for his handling of the nuclear negotiations and the country's mounting economic crisis.

Sa'id Leylaz, a leading economist, said: "The future of the nation has never been this dark, both economically and politically."

Iranians face rocketing prices for food and housing and sharply increased unemployment, estimated at 30%.

"Ahmadinejad is under extreme pressures from his own supporters to change policies," said Leylaz. Sources in Tehran say Ahmadinejad could be vulnerable, as Khamenei has clearly signalled his displeasure and has the power to dismiss him.

Khamenei rarely speaks in public, but the Islamic Republic, a newspaper he owns, launched a strong attack on Ahmadinejad's "personalisation" of the nuclear issue. In an editorial, it stated: "Our advice to the president is to speak about the nuclear issue only during important national occasions, stop provoking aggressive powers like the United States and concentrate more on the daily needs of the people, those who voted for you on your promises."

Ahmadinejad's weakness is being exploited by Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a conservative pragmatist and former president who was defeated by him in elections in 2005.

It's sort of like calling Tony Blair a strongman.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 22, 2007 3:28 PM

This sort of thing is no different than the infighting between Soviet politburo members.

Just substitute "mullah" for "apparatchik".

Posted by: dna at January 22, 2007 5:38 PM

As a follow up to the thread that just closed, why exactly do you think Iran will never have nukes?

What do you know that the rest of the world doesn't?

Posted by: dna at January 22, 2007 8:15 PM

They don't want them and we won't let them have them.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 8:19 PM

They work awfully hard to get something they don't want.

And we won't let them have nukes like we didn't let NK have nukes?

Posted by: dna at January 22, 2007 9:02 PM

No, they aren't. One guy is talking alot.

Israel doesn't care about North Korea.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 9:08 PM

So you're saying that Iran has no nuclear weapons program?

Does anybody else know about this?

Posted by: dna at January 22, 2007 9:11 PM

Yes, Iran has no serious nuclear weapons program. If they did we'd bomb it so the Israeli wouldn't.

Posted by: oj at January 22, 2007 9:13 PM

So how is it you are the only person in the world with this invaluable insight?

Where is your evidence?

And why should the rest of us be willing to bet a second Holocaust that you are right?

Posted by: dna at January 23, 2007 6:07 AM

No one takes their nuclear ambitions seriously. It's just a pretext for us to dangle a Holocaust over their heads and make them do what you want. It's good policy as long as you aren't gullible enough to believe it.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2007 9:33 AM

Who is this "no one" you speak of? Please provide one example with hard evidence to support your claim.

Or is this just another example of facts just bouncing off you?

Posted by: dna at January 23, 2007 10:42 AM

The wahoos are even upset that no one thinks the program is serious:


Posted by: oj at January 23, 2007 11:45 AM

How about something that's not behind a pay wall? Or better yet, just quote the pertinent section (as I do) that confirms that nobody believes the Iranians are serious about nukes.

Posted by: dna at January 23, 2007 12:27 PM

Thomas Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, said analysts now had much more information about the sources of raw intelligence coming from the field.

"Analysts have to know more about the sources than was generally the case before the Iraq estimate," Mr. Fingar said.

Analysts also are required to include in their reports more information about the chain of logic that led them to their conclusions about sensitive topics like Iran, North Korea and global terrorism -- "showing your work," as Mr. Fingar put it.

At the same time, Mr. Fingar dismissed the notion that intelligence analysts should try merely to connect random intelligence findings. "As a 40-year analyst, I'm offended by the notion of 'connecting dots,' ''he said. "If you had enough monkeys you could do that."

The consensus of the intelligence agencies is that Iran is still years away from building a nuclear weapon. Such an assessment angers some in Washington, who say that it ignores the prospect that Iran could be aided by current nuclear powers like North Korea. "When the intelligence community says Iran is 5 to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, I ask: 'If North Korea were to ship them a nuke tomorrow, how close would they be then?" said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2007 2:45 PM

"Years" is not a very long time, not very long at all.

So where does this say that the Iranians are not serious about developing nukes?

Posted by: dna at January 23, 2007 5:21 PM

If they were serious they'd have them. Ayatollah Khamenei has ruled out nuclear weapons so they don't have them.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2007 5:43 PM