Iranian Nuclear Program
Iran is perhaps facing its most ominous security environment since the Iran-Iraq War, yet Iranian leaders are being surprisingly open and frank about the severe challenges they face and their need to find better strategies in response.
I have noted previously the hypersensitivity to US military pressure that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei exhibited during a May 6 speech in Tehran. Perhaps just as important in that speech—but as yet not discussed—was something unspoken: "Everyone take note of this meaning. Our negotiators also, pay [close] attention!
Last week there was widespread optimism that a deal on Iran’s nuclear program was close. Now a less enthusiastic tone has emerged, especially from Western negotiators, and a key problem appears to be how much and how fast sanctions relief will come.
A likely partial agreement and extension of the nuclear talks comes as no surprise. Iran recognized the March 31 deadline for a political agreement did not really matter and behaved accordingly.
Last week’s approval by the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee of the Corker-Menendez bill to review any nuclear agreement with Iran did not bother Tehran much. Iran’s leaders understood the bill would have minimal impact on reaching a final deal and reacted accordingly. President Hassan Rouhani voiced his indifference, noting Iran is negotiating with the world powers, not the US Congress.