Top of the Agenda: Lessening of War Fears Over Iran?
Fears over an imminent military confrontation between the United States and Iran over the latter's controversial nuclear program have receded, according to a New York Times report today. Western economic sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector prompted the Iranian government to be more flexible in direct negotiations with the United States and other world powers, held in Istanbul two weeks ago, the Times said. Negotiations are set to resume in Baghdad next month. At the same time, there is a growing debate within Israel over launching a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, which has delayed the possibility of an immediate attack, experts said.
"Yet even if the third time for the fuel-swap proposal proves to be the charm, the political conditions in both Washington and Tehran will make it exceptionally difficult to build on any initial momentum. In Washington, Obama might claim the deal as a vindication of his Iran policy, but Republicans would surely criticize it as an insufficient ploy that only buys time for Tehran to race across the nuclear threshold," writes Suzanne Maloney for ForeignAffairs.com.
"The tone has certainly changed, in part because the Iranians understand that the harsh tone was not serving them well. Second of all, two factors have come together that have impacted their decision-making--it is impossible to disaggregate them--which is more important: the unprecedented economic distress or the threat of Israeli military strike?" CFR's Ray Takeyh said in this CFR Interview.
"To be sure, the public seems to want exactly what President Obama wants, which is to resolve this stand-off diplomatically. Yet it is striking how, in the absence of strong war-talk from the White House -- indeed, given all the poor-mouthing of the military option from administration officials --there is still a reservoir of public support for the hawkish policy," writes Peter Feaver for ForeignPolicy.com.