Iran Talks Slowed, But Not Ended

While France may have successfully placed the brakes on what some believe would be a no-win deal with Iran concerning its weapons program, Lee Smith argues in The Weekly Standard that the pause merely delays the inevitable because the Obama administration remains committed to a deal. Any deal.

“Nonetheless, France’s show of courage cannot disguise the fact that the Obama administration is determined to strike a deal with Iran. The reason it’s made Iran a partner in negotiations and isolated U.S. allies is because the Iran deal is just one detail in in a much bigger picture. Obama wants to get it over with because the real issue is to create a new regional architecture—one that will bring Iran in from the cold, whether Israel and Saudi Arabia like it or not,” posits Lee.

After talks broke down, Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to defend the administration’s diplomatic efforts and insisted that the deal they were pursuing would not place security at risk.

“Having the negotiation does not mean giving up anything. It means you will put to the test what is possible and what is needed, and whether or not Iran is prepared to do what is necessary to prove that its program can only be a peaceful program,” said Kerry in a news conference reports the New York Times.

Kerry will return to the US, where he again will be on the defensive when he briefs lawmakers about the next steps on Iran and tries to convince Congress to support weakening sanctions on Iran.

“Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a banking committee member who also chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he disagrees. New sanctions are needed to strengthen the administration’s negotiating position vis-à-vis Iran, he said.

“It would make it very clear what the Congress’s intent is, and at the same time it would give the negotiators the opportunity to say, ‘Here’s what is waiting.’ From my perspective, that’s both an incentive and an insurance policy,” Menendez said,” reports Josh Rogin in The Daily Beast.

In the House, continuing sanctions has earned bipartisan support. Also in the House, on Wednesday lawmakers will hear testimony on the first 100 days of Hassan Rouhani’s term.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Spyer turns his eye to the impact of Iran and Russia’s involvement in Syria. He writes in The Tablet that as the 2013 draws to an end, Syria’s Bashir al-Assad looks stronger, rather than weaker, partly as a consequence of assistance provided by Russia and Iran.

“Russia has continued to supply arms to the regime, and its veto power on the U.N. Security Council has prevented any coherent international response to the crisis. But it is Iran that has played the really crucial role in propping up the government. The Syrian central bank has announced that Iran has facilitated a credit line worth at least $4 billion to Assad. One Arab official estimated that Iran was providing around $700 million per month to Syria.

“Meantime, the rebellion itself has fallen into disunity, muddying what was once a clear fight between a brutally oppressive, dictatorial regime and an apparently concerted rebellion against it,” Spyer contends.




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