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Iran: The September Siesta

Published on: October 4th 2008 13:55:20

Iran: The September Siesta


While absent from headlines over the past month, Washington’s sensitivities regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program have not diminished. US officials welcomed the September 22nd statement of the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed “serious concern that Iran’s long-range Shahab-3 ballistic missiles are being modified to accommodate nuclear payloads. This has done little, however, to expand US and Western counter-proliferation options. Washington’s expansion of unilateral restrictions on Iranian companies on September 10th comes as the international sanctions regime has proven itself ineffective in pressuring Tehran’s conservative leadership. Feuding between the US and Russia has severely limited the scope for tougher UN resolutions, with the Kremlin implying a quid pro quo price that the US curtails its criticism of Russian actions in Georgia. Tensions have been further exacerbated by suggestions Moscow may accelerate delivery of advanced S-300 Surface-to-Air missile systems to Tehran. With US officials acknowledging that the Administration is adrift, the debate over Iran continues to shift to the future. While a report produced by the Democrat-leaning Centre for a New American Security echoes Senator Obama’s policy of “aggressive diplomacy”, analysts at the Republican-orientated American Enterprise Institute are pushing Senator McCain’s arguments on military and economic containment. Amid all this, concerns remain that an ultimate failure to dissuade Iran will increase the prospects of military confrontation, potentially instigated by Israel. While commentators believe these risks to be slightly reduced following the nomination of Tzipi Livni to succeed Prime Minister Olmert, recent statements by Israeli hawks underscore the situation’s fragility.


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