Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reading Between The Lines On Iran

Iran has thumbed its nose at the deadline last Friday for its answer at the Vienna talks to facilitate Iran handing over 80% of its uranium to Russia and France for peaceful processing. They are thought to be working on a new proposal whereby they get to keep about a ton of the LEU, just enough to continue their bomb making work. They will present this brainstorm tomorrow.

If you look between the lines of the published comments of European and American foreign ministers and generals, people who know a lot more than they can explicitly say, you can do a little informal intelligence gathering. An article out today on European angst over Iran's usual stalling tactics quotes some of the FM comments as "Iran cannot play and play and play with us" and "dialogue cannot last forever". They seem to have had a vision of a scheduled light at the end of the "talk" tunnel. The French foreign minister said "Iran is wasting time because now is the time for talking. One day it will be too late."

As for more formal intelligence gathering, nobody does it better than Stratfor. From their latest Iran report out today (Israel, U.S.: Negotiating Iran With Russia)

An Iranian state television report from Oct. 26 caveated that Iran would be demanding significant amendments to the proposal. Those amendments are unlikely to satisfy the P-5+1 negotiating team, and so the negotiations will continue -- or so Iran hopes.

Iran may be taking note of a critical meeting occurring in Moscow Oct. 28 between U.S. National Security Adviser James Jones and Russian Security Council Chief (and former Federal Security Service head) Nikolai Patrushev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Patrushev is believed to have extended the invitation to Jones in the past week, and STRATFOR sources in the Kremlin have indicated that in this meeting, Lavrov will be trying to get a better read on U.S. intentions regarding Iran.

Before heading to Moscow, Jones said Oct. 27 that the United States will respond if the negotiations with Iran fail to produce concrete results. He reiterated that Iran "now needs to follow through on its commitments" and that "nothing is off the table" in terms of U.S. options in dealing with Iran. While maintaining an expected level of ambiguity, Jones is clearly signaling that the U.S. administration is prepared to take a tougher stance on Iran and will not allow this diplomatic phase to continue indefinitely -- a pledge that Obama recently made to Israel.

Israel, meanwhile, is keeping quiet, but is also busy laying the groundwork for more decisive action against Iran.

As for the published lines from the quiet Israelis to read between, well there are very few. But there is the considered view of Middle East experts, as noted in my previous posts, that "when the Israelis go really quiet, that's when you have to start worrying" (about a military strike, that is). The empty space being published seems to have a lot to say.

No comments:

Post a Comment