Too Much of Nothing Can Make a Man Ill at Ease
Lack of progress in Iran nuclear talks will lead to military action
The first day of P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran concluded with nothing except an agreement to talk again the following day, as had been planned. And what happened? Yesterday scored the countries involved another talking date: next month, in Moscow. In Istanbul in April, the scheduling of a new round was victory enough. It would be the definition of absurdity to consider the same thing this month in Baghdad to be just as much of one. And there really is no triumph to take away apart from that. The P5+1 countries’ main goal was to get Iran to make concessions on uranium enrichment; its chief negotiator said Iran was “not prepared” to halt uranium enrichment to 20 percent.
The potential solace, except not really, can be found in the timing of the new talks. June 18 and 19 deliberately come fewer than two weeks before the European Union oil embargo goes into effect on July 1—the thing we know Iran would love to avoid. But there’s a Catch-22: Iran seems likely only to make concessions if the embargo (and/or similar sanctions); yet it’s the threat of the embargo (and/or similar sanctions) that would make concessions possible.
A former Iranian negotiator tells influential columnist David Ignatius that the West needs to focus on weaponization, not enrichment, and not to try to make Iran cut a deal “under duress.” But the West is also focused on weaponization—it’s what the U.N. inspectors have been up to for the past week—and it seems silly to suggest that Iran will make a deal only if it doesn’t think vital interests are at stake.
For a deal to happen, it seems to me, the two sides need to share interests rather than be everywhere at odds. Here is where the threat of military action helps: neither side wants it, and therefore both should be able to work toward avoiding it.
And it seems as though military action is basically what comes next if the talks break down. Reports of a finding near the Fordo facility of uranium enriched to 27 percent—that is, past even the 20 percent threshold—probably does not indicate intention to enrich up to weapons-grade 90 percent immediately. But it does suggest erroneous enrichment as a byproduct of reconfiguring centrifuges—the sort of thing you would do if you wanted to give yourself the ability to break out into nuclear-weapons capability even faster. Such reports are likely not to be the last of that type, and so it seems unlikely that Israel, or even the United States, will wait much longer before ditching the negotiating track altogether. Especially when there isn’t really all that much to ditch.
Iran Nuclear Talks End with No Deal [NYT]
The Iranian View on How To Strike a Deal [WP]
Nuclear Monitor in Iran Detect ‘Unalarming’ Enrichment [Al Monitor The Back Channel]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.