25 September, 2009

An Iran bombshell

In an announcement that is closely tied to the sanctions debate, this morning Western leaders called a hasty press conference to announce that they had indisputable intelligence of a secret Iranian nuclear site. Obama, Brown, Sarkozy all stood together, with Merkel offering her support and the Russians also condemning the revelation. This proof of deception, coupled with a strong show of unity by many of the major players, should further put Tehran on the defensive before the start of the presidential-level negotiations.

Marc Lynch's take at Foreign Policy is here: "The public disclosure puts Iran on the back foot ahead of those talks, and appears to have encouraged Russia to more seriously consider supporting such sanctions (that, plus the missile defense decision probably). This has to change Iranian calculations -- indeed, the perception that the sanctions are now more likely is precisely what may lead the Iranians to make more concessions to avoid them."

Iran expert Gary Sick thinks that this is a move that will make war less likely, and a negotiated settlement more.

But I think the best round up of how we got here comes from the Daily Dish:


And so you see the Obama mojo again. Look at the moves of the last month. He scraps the missile defense in Eastern Europe, pleasing Russia, and moves the focus of defense to the Mediterranean, pleasing Israel.

He pwns Ahmadinejad at the UN by being the first president of the US to preside over the resolution to enforce nuclear non-proliferation.

He corrals the rhetorical support of the developing world, isolating Tehran still further. He hangs back a little and allows Brown and Sarkozy to do the heavy hitting on NoKo and Iran this past week, again revealing that the desire to curtail Ahmadinejad's nukes is not only an American project.

And then, this morning ... kapow!

He busts Ahmadinejad in a air-tight case that focuses on active Iranian deception. All this, of course, may still not be enough. Putin's position remains opaque; and China is still not on the full wagon. But can anyone say that the isolation of Iran has weakened under Obama?

If you add to the mix the critical factor of the Green Revolution, then the West's position vis-a-vis Iran has improved immensely in the last eight months. And if you believe that Obama's Cairo speech was at least a positive factor in helping bring that about - then the promise of the Obama era in American foreign policy begins to take shape.

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