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The Race for Iran

Flynt Leverett and Abbas Milani On The Riz Khan Show

This past Wednesday The Race for Iran Publisher and New America Foundation/Iran Initiative Director Flynt Leverett appeared with Stanford University Director of Iran Studies Abbas Milani to discuss the United States’ policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Leverett suggested that the Obama administration has struggled to make the difficult choices necessary to pursue strategic engagement with Iran, while Milani placed more of the blame on the Iranian side.

One aspect of the discussion between Leverett and Milani deserves special attention.

The United States remains committed to its policy of “no enrichment” – meaning that the United States continue to oppose the enrichment of uranium on Iranian soil. Leverett points out that this is a faulty basis for U.S. policy given that Iran is already enriching uranium – an activity explicitly permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – and is extremely unlikely to give up its uranium enrichment program at this point.

In response, Milani claims that the NPT says that the right to uranium enrichment is “abrogated” if a country is found to be in violation of the Treaty. As Leverett points out in the segment above, the treaty does not, in fact, include such a provision.

I have pasted the relevant articles of the NPT below to illustrate this point:

Article IV

1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

2. All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also co-operate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world.

Article V

Each Party to the Treaty undertakes to take appropriate measures to ensure that, in accordance with this Treaty, under appropriate international observation and through appropriate international procedures, potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty on a non-discriminatory basis and that the charge to such Parties for the explosive devices used will be as low as possible and exclude any charge for research and development. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty shall be able to obtain such benefits, pursuant to a special international agreement or agreements, through an appropriate international body with adequate representation of non-nuclear-weapon States. Negotiations on this subject shall commence as soon as possible after the Treaty enters into force. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty so desiring may also obtain such benefits pursuant to bilateral agreements.

Article VI

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The full text of the NPT can be found here.

– Ben Katcher

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65 Responses to “Flynt Leverett and Abbas Milani On The Riz Khan Show”

  1. Abbas says:

    Moreover Rafsanjani was one of the first person beside mousavi who withdraw the uranium deal. How can such a person (abbas milani) be a scientist and professorf? rafsanjani severaly times called for flollowing the leader.

    all this is nothing new in iran. We als had a President Bani Sadr which parlaiment impeach, nothing happened! Moreover we had Montezari as designed new leader, and supreme leader khomeini dismissed him. So what is new with GREEN MOVEMENT?

  2. Abbas says:

    Abbas Milani made a mistake, Khatami has the permission to leave the country, this was just a rumor.

  3. Castellio says:

    Thanks James… I appreciate your efforts. It is a fascinating period and, I think, gives us necessary information to better grasp where we are now.

  4. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    I’ll get into a proper research library and give you some recommendations. Edward S. Luttwak’s book is brilliant, but has only bits and pieces about Egypt in 4th-7th Centuries. Discrimination against the majority Christian population of Syria and Egypt, by the Eastern Roman Empire, did a great deal to facilitate the Arab conquest.
    The Arabs taxed all non-Muslims the same, so the discrimination against Arian Christians disappeared. Taxes were a big issue in weakening the Sassanid Persian Empire, too, so that it and most of the Byzantine Empire fell to the Muslim conquest in the 630s-640s.

  5. Castellio says:

    James: Any leads to the most insightful books on Egypt circa 4th to 7th century most appreciated.

  6. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    I think the US will be far stronger if it stops the ludicrous effort to control the Middle East by putting in military and naval bases, etc. Keep the bases in Qatar, but let the French, or other EU countries take a larger profile. And achieve normal relations with Iran!

  7. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Thanks for the recommendation. You might enjoy The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire, by Litvak. Great chapter on the gigantic effort of the Persian Empire to conquer the Byzantine Empire, and brilliant counter-strategy of the Byzantine general (who took the Sassanid capital, just at the point it seemed the Persians were about to capture Constantinople). Persian capital was just outside present Baghdad.

    Zoroastrians were about as numerous as Christians, in about the 4th Century AD, in the Eastern Roman Empire.

  8. kooshy says:

    Castellio

    I personally don’t think the end of the American empire will be a sudden change like the USSR’s, I think It has been rather a gradual change that has actually stared in the early 70’s when the empire could no longer finance it’s expansions and had to resort to its Satraps (oil valuation of dollar), but it became more visible (vulnerable) after the 9/11, this has resulted in tightening of some civil liberties and frustrated policy makings, which is why I think the after effects are almost always similar.

  9. Castellio says:

    James, Kooshy.

    Currently reading AD 381: Heretics, Pagans and the Christian State by Charles Freeman. Recommended.

    To the point (and not Freeman’s point): the very brutal persecutions of Egyptian-Christians by the Eastern Roman Empire for their ‘heresy’ as Arian Christians is one of the reasons, too, for the Egyptians relatively easy acceptance of Islam. Why stay within a Christian Empire that fiercely persecutes you for being the wrong kind of Christian, when the usurpers seem to be both more rational and more tolerant?

    It’s not the history we learned, but it’s probably closer to what happened.

    However, do either of you really think the end of the American empire is necessarily nigh? Or is it that you think it is ‘relatively’ less secure than we presume? Or is it that, without a change of course, it is less secure than it’s leaders presume?

  10. kooshy says:

    James

    You are absolutely right, all empires over stretch themselves, and that alone can be the cause for their demise and make them “vanish from the pages of the History” I happen to believe that we are witnessing one, just like when we witnessed demise of one over stretched empire back in 80’s, empires not always have fallen in the same way, but the after effect of their fall is always similar.

  11. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    It is interesting to compare the UK with the US; UK spends 40 billion pounds (60 or so billion US $) per year on defence, and all three parties call for cuts. US with five times the population, spends maybe $1 trillion per year (some put the figure at $1.2 trillion). US ratio of defence spending is triple that of the UK. Truly insane. Particularly given that the same money could buy trolley systems for a thousand cities, and cut oil imports considerably.

  12. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    The Sassanid (or Sassanian) Persian Empire exhaused itself in an extended effort to conquer the Byzantine Empire’s Asiatic and African provinces, in the first part of the 7th Century (western). The Arabs came along and picked up the pieces of both empires.

    I think the legacy of the Second World War was the overly powerful “defence” structure (armaments manufacturers), that Truman tried to rein in, but then was hit with the Korean War. Eisenhower, of course, warned what was in store for the US if the military-industrial-congressional complex got out of hand.

  13. kooshy says:

    Castellio

    Did you notice this week there was a big story in media with this headline
    “The Pew Research Center Poll revealed a poll that 78% of Americans don’t trust their government”

    Historians believe there was a similar issue in Iran at the end of Sassanid Empire before the Arab invasion which actually facilitated and made possible the invasion of mighty Persian Empire by the Bedouin Arabs. In this modern so called democratic times, it could be even more difficult to keep an empire if people are not supportive of their rulers and related policies, regardless of how mighty the empire’s armed forces are that can eventually become a burden of this said empire.

  14. Castellio says:

    Kooshy, James:

    I liked Kozy’s article and admire his writing in general. Thanks, Kooshy, for the heads up. One of my favourite historians is Gabriel Kolko, and as early as 1972 in The Limits of Power: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1945-1954, he was making a similar case.

    My contrarian point might be this: while I recognize all sorts of evidence of a rapid moral decline in the civic structure of American life – the absence of a functioning federal democracy and the abandonment of habeas corpus being just two issues – I note that the civic-institutional decline is proceeding alongside a vast and continuing military build-up. So while it is evident the Empire will not be held together by superior morals, does that necessarily mean the Empire is on its last legs?

    Maybe not…

  15. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    The Vietnam War was an act of great foolishness, and of course you are right, that American public recognition of that stupidity was connected to the tens of thousands of conscripts dying in the war.

    Keeping large forces in W. Germany, Japan and S. Korea for decades bolstered US national security. By contrast, keeping permanent bases in Iraq and/or Afghanistan undermines US national security.

  16. kooshy says:

    Castellio, James, Eric

    A very thoughtful article somewhat covering what we were commenting on earlier

    The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty:
    Last Gasp of a Moribund Civilization

    By Prof. John Kozy

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25341.htm

  17. Castellio says:

    The major difference is that there were 58,000 American deaths in a conscription armed forces. That’s not what’s happening in the Mid-East.

  18. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    I think it is more accurate to say that the Vietnam War was the delusional response of the American leadership of the 1960s, to a perceived “threat” from the spread of communism. The reason the war was delusional is simply that Vietnam wanted to have good relations with the US. The UK recognized there was no need to fight a war to prevent the forcible reunification of Vietnam. And one might add, that the partition of Vietnam in 1954 was caused in large part by the wish of the Roman Catholic element in South Vietnam, who understandably wanted to remain in control. In a way, the American people were the victims of a scam perpetated by foolish leaders of the nation.

  19. Castellio says:

    Well, the hope of rapprochement with the Arab-Persian Muslim world is the hope of this website. And I entirely support it.

  20. kooshy says:

    Castellio

    “Kooshy, Americans realized that Vietnam had nothing to do with national security. Will they conclude the same in the land of oil and gas”

    Vietnam was about preventing the spread of communism which was the biggest concern of national security in late 60’s and 70’s, now if Americans at some point realized that it wasn’t worth the cost and send Henry to kiss some Chinese *B* so we can leave in one piece, that’s now days politely is called rapprochement. War and imperialism like anything else is just about economy (famous phrase of Clinton campaign comes to mind) therefore is ruled by balance of cost vs. benefit, that’s what happened in Nam. and that’s what will sooner or later happen in any war.

    Cheers

  21. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    I agree with you that the precedent of US troops remaining for decades in (West) Germany, Japan and South Korea does not mean the US will be so stupid as to keep permanent military bases in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many neocons argue for keeping permanent US bases in Iraq, because they think that is a way to “protect” Israel (meaning to enable Israel to continue to oppress the Palestinians without hindrance).

  22. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Good points. The Israel-firsters of course wanted the US to pressure the UK into the idiotic invasion of Iraq. The neocons did a very good job, however, of keeping British Middle East experts away from the planning sessions and decision-making that created the catastrophe, for the simple reason they knew British Arabists would expose the fallacious “thinking” that drove the program forward.

  23. Castellio says:

    Kooshy, Americans realized that Vietnam had nothing to do with national security. Will they conclude the same in the land of oil and gas? You point out the cost of occupation during insurgency is high. True, but what indicates that the bill won’t be paid? It’s a mistake to think the American empire is now disintegrating; on the contrary, it’s in a process of consolidation.

  24. kooshy says:

    Castellio

    “Why oh why would anyone believe they won’t remain in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially given the growing US military presence throughout that region? They might be called “non-combat”, but the military will remain. No one on the budgeting side in the American congress is even entertaining the idea of cuts to the military budget.”

    Simple for the same reason they are not in Nam today, different geography and different demography is the reason, plus US did not have hostility for 10 years in Germany or Korea but it did in Nam. Consistant insurgent hostility is not an environment you can keep safe bases and operate at $400 per gallon fuel.

  25. Castellio says:

    As we all know, the US troops remain in Korea, Japan and Germany. Why oh why would anyone believe they won’t remain in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially given the growing US military presence throughout that region? They might be called “non-combat”, but the military will remain. No one on the budgeting side in the American congress is even entertaining the idea of cuts to the military budget.

  26. Alan says:

    Cyrus – Are you sure? I know every report reaffirms non-diversion, but it always carries the rider that due to Iran’s “lack of co-operation” over the Alleged Studies it cannot guarantee it. My understanding is that the IAEA do consider Iran to be in violation of their Safeguards Agreement; that was why they were referred to the UNSC.

    It was/is a reflection of the contradiction within the IAEA – the technical guys (inspectors) and the political guys (the Board). The technical guys do not find them in violation, however the Board does, over the Alleged Studies, and what the Board says goes. It is a blatant politicisation of the NPT process, and probably Iran’s biggest complaint with the IAEA. A key Iranian demand is that their “nuclear file” be referred back to the IAEA from the UNSC.

  27. Eric A. Brill says:

    James,

    “If Obama is so foolish as to support retaining permanent US military bases in Iraq, and Afghanistan, the US is in deep deep trouble.”

    In the late summer of 1976, I was in a small plane about to take off from Kabul airport. I’d been talking to the Afghan man in the seat next to me as we taxied slowly out to the end of the runway. I looked out the window and saw about 8 or 10 military plans sitting on the tarmac, all a bit outdated and in need of a new paint job. I turned to the Afghan man and asked “What’s all that?” He laughed, and replied with a grand wave of his hand: “That, my friend, is the Afghanistan air force.”

    And that, I suspect, will be about the extent of the Afghanistan air force after the US leaves.

    Only the planes at Bagram are easily removable, of course, and so the US may simply abandon all the buildings, runways and other ground installations. I have my doubts, though, especially when I see how difficult it has been even for a country like Kyrgyzstan to get rid of US military bases (and whose recently ousted president Bakiyev may have some practical advice for any US air-base landlord who might consider raising the US’ rent).

  28. Castellio says:

    Yes, James, I think that’s true. Doubtful if it will long dissuade the Israelis, but I do think Lebanon is more unified than it has been, thanks to the series of invasions.

    My (small) argument with you was whether the “Israeli firsters” want to replace the US/UK special relationship. I don’t think they do.. They are smart enough to realize that an Israeli/US relationship devoid of other real allies is a losing proposition.

  29. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    Saad Hariri, PM of Lebanon, recongizes that the security of his country depends upon Hezbollah being strong enough to deter another murderous Israeli rampage.

  30. Castellio says:

    I’m with you on that, Alan.

  31. kooshy says:

    Eric

    “For anyone who may doubt the truth of this remark, use Google Earth to check out the US’ Bagram air base, about 30 miles NNW of Kabul. Zoom in, take a close look, and then ask yourself whether the US military has any intention of giving up that mammoth installation any time in the next 50 years or so.”

    One thing that painfully, took me a long time to learn for doing my own business was, that the cost will eventually balance one’s ambitions. That was true for the USSR and England in 1800’s can’t be more true for the US today on both theaters.
    We here are the evidence of that fact.

  32. Alan says:

    Castellio – yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Islamic politics is fascinating, and your examples show the wide spectrum within it. But ultimately, and this is the main issue (and the point generally lost in Western debate), Islamism is moderate, and fulfills many, many more ideals held in the West than existing regimes.

    The Brothers in Egypt are moderate, Hizballah are moderate, the AKP in Turkey are probably the most moderate of all, Hamas have moderated dramatically since they adopted a political approach allied to their resistance (if anybody doubts that, just take a look at their 2006 Program for Government, which is moderate in every conceivable aspect). These are not the only examples either.

    There is so much to work with there, particularly when you consider that it has so much popular support that to carry on suppressing it is akin to pushing water uphill with a rake.

  33. Castellio says:

    That’s simply the wrong analysis, James. The “Israel first crowd” is quite happy with the US/UK special relationship… and depends on it, in fact, when it is going their way. The difficulty is in controlling the UK, which does have, after all, in spite of being English, a European perspective.

    Blair’s presence made it all much easier, but he is (almost) gone.

  34. James Canning says:

    Dan,

    Do you think Obama can be bamboozled by his advisers, to the extent he supports trying to repress Iran from taking its appropriate place as the leading state of the Middle East? (Or equal to Turkey, if Turkey is regarded as ME.)

  35. James Canning says:

    Eric,

    If Obama is so foolish as to support retaining permanent US military bases in Iraq, and Afghanistan, the US is in deep deep trouble.

  36. James Canning says:

    Castellio,

    I recommend Philip Stephens’ comments in the Financial Times today: “Shrunken ambitions”.
    The UK went into Iraq, and Afghanistan, acting as the strongest ally of the US. Obama has played down the significance of the UK. I think this reflects the desire of the Israel first crowd, to supplant the US/UK special relationship with the US/Israel special relationship. In this way, the Israel lobby is undermining the national security of the US.

  37. Cyrus says:

    Sorry Alan but Iran os not in violation of the NPT and never has been. The “work plan” dealt with safeguards violations, and Iran resolved the outstanding issues on that list (except for the Alleged Studies that the US has failed to substantiate but expects Iran to refute anyway.) Legally, a violation of the NPT requires evidence of the diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses. That’s the legal standard. The IAEA has consistently (and deliberately) stated in every report that there is no evidence of such a diversion.

    As Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy has written:

    “The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005.”

    MORE http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2008/01/iran-did-not-vi.html

  38. Cyrus says:

    Sorry Alan but Iran not in violation of the NPT and never has been. The “work plan” dealt with safeguards violations, and Iran resolved the outstanding issues on that list (except for the Alleged Studies that the US has failed to substantiate but expects Iran to refute anyway.) Legally, a violation of the NPT requires evidence of the diversion of nuclear material for non-peaceful uses. That’s the legal standard. The IAEA has consistently (and deliberately) stated in every report that there is no evidence of such a diversion.

    As Michael Spies of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy has written:

    “The conclusion that no diversion has occurred certifies that the state in question is in compliance with its undertaking, under its safeguards agreement and Article III of the NPT, to not divert material to non-peaceful purposes. In the case of Iran, the IAEA was able to conclude in its November 2004 report that that all declared nuclear materials had been accounted for and therefore none had been diverted to military purposes. The IAEA reached this same conclusion in September 2005.”

    MORE http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2008/01/iran-did-not-vi.html

  39. Castellio says:

    An interesting approach, Alan, but is that possible: “embracing Islamic politics”. Does it mean forcing Mubarak to recognize the Brotherhood as a legal party; recognizing Hamas in Palestine; accepting the current government of Iran?

    Yes, that would be a way out of the impasse, and would moderate the situation while improving everyone’s prospects for the future. It worked in Turkey, and accepting (if reluctantly) the Islamists of Lebanon has allowed that government to function…

    Is that the sort of thing you mean?

  40. Eric A. Brill says:

    Castellio,

    “However, I think we underestimate the American staying power. Military bases will be maintained in Afghanistan and Iraq even when “the troops are withdrawn”.”

    For anyone who may doubt the truth of this remark, use Google Earth to check out the US’ Bagram air base, about 30 miles NNW of Kabul. Zoom in, take a close look, and then ask yourself whether the US military has any intention of giving up that mammoth installation any time in the next 50 years or so.

  41. Dan Cooper says:

    Lysander

    You have also made another very important point that:

    “no matter what Iran does, US objectives will be to hinder Iran by whatever means available.

    If war were an option, the US would not hesitate.

    Otherwise, the order of the day is isolation, “containment,” economic sanctions with a goal towards internal destabilization.

    The latter being not simply to overthrow the government but possibly to break Iran into its smaller ethnic components.

    If Milan realized that, I don’t think he would speak enthusiastically on behalf of the Green movemen”

  42. Alan says:

    Castellio – how to shake it up?

    War just seems impossible to me. Israel can’t physically do it, they need the US to do it for them. The US will not do it because the risks are way too high. Maybe Israel will keep on with the belligerence in the belief they can force the US to act, and perhaps this is really our only chance to “shake it up” – letting Israel overplay their hand. They’re certainly reckless enough for it to be a possibility.

    Lysander is right about US client states. That is the real policy/strategy change the US needs. End the use of client states to further goals, and focus on achieving them through forming new partnerships via the evolution of those countries to genuine democracies. After all, once upon a time that was the way the US DID operate in the region.

    If that means embracing Islamic politics, which I think it does, then they simply have to get on with it.

  43. Castellio says:

    I, too, think that Lysander nails it at 1.22 pm. The Israeli-American policy continues to support the immiseration of the greater region, and to support its break-up into warring ethnic units.

    However, I think we underestimate the American staying power. Military bases will be maintained in Afghanistan and Iraq even when “the troops are withdrawn”. Nato, for reasons that boggle the mind, continues to accept its support role to US interventionism. The color revolutions are failing, but the machinations of the covert policies of the NSA, CIA and Pentagon continue with some success… and most importantly, the media-military complex maintains its hold on the American public’s mind and purse strings. There is lots of angst, but no public revolt brewing in America, unless it’s a tempest in a teapot from the right.

    All in all, America seems quite accepting of this greater commitment to a long war, and politicians from both parties will run on the idea of “winning” it.

    How to shake this up?

  44. Dan Cooper says:

    Interesting article By Ray McGovern

    Is Iran a Threat ?

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article25327.htm

  45. Dan Cooper says:

    President Obama Dodges Question About Israel’s Nuke Program.

    President Obama took questions today at the Washington Nuclear Security Summit and took a doozy from Scott Wilson of the Washington Post, who pointedly asked:

    “Why Israel has not declared their nuclear arms, nor have joined the non proliferation treaty.”

    Obama deftly avoided confirming that Israel is, in fact, possesses nuclear arms, and retrained his answer to U.S. nuclear policy.

    Sadly, Wilson’s question is far more interesting than the response:

    “You have spoken often about bringing US Policy in line with its treaty obligations internationally to eliminate the perceptions of hypocrisy that some of the world sees toward US and its allies.

    In that spirit and in that venue will you call on Israel to declare its nuclear program and sign the non-proliferation treaty, and if not why wont other countries see that as an inc not to sing on to a treaty that you say is important to strengthen.”

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/president-obama-dodges-question-about-israels-nuke-program/

  46. Dan Cooper says:

    James

    Under pressure from Israel lobby, Obama administration is forced to repress Iran, in order to protect Israel.

    however, I agree with you that: “this policy is lunacy of the first dimension”

  47. kooshy says:

    James

    What I understand, is that the enrichment program or more correctly Iran’s right to enrichment has now became part of the the Iranian sovereignty and part of Iran’s territory, no one, literally no one, can take that away any more, as the whole world was witness this is the same territory that millions of Iranians walked bare foot over mines, died of chemical bombs, and fought with bare hands, for eight years, every one of those young and old volunteers was told that you are not fighting your brothers but indeed you are fighting the Americans for your brothers.

  48. Eric A. Brill says:

    Lysander,

    Very insightful post (1:22 PM).

    Enough to make Iran wonder whether it’s worth “engaging” with the US any more than absolutely necessary to avoid being attacked — whether Iran might instead be better off simply keeping the US at bay, deepening its relationships with other powers and neighbors, and patiently waiting as the US’ influence in the area continue to decline.

    Sooner or later, and probably sooner than it might predict, Iran could find itself in essentially the same position as Howard Roark, the young architect and main character in Ayn Rand’s book, The Fountainhead, when he delivered the book’s most famous line. Roark was responding to a question posed by Ellsworth Toohey, an influential architecture critic who had sought to demonstrate his own importance by ruining Roark’s career. It appeared that Toohey had succeeded, and he wanted to be sure that Roark had noticed the extent of Toohey’s destructive power.

    “Why don’t you tell me what you think of me in any words you wish,” Toohey asked.

    With a puzzled look, Roark replied: “But I don’t think of you.”

  49. James Canning says:

    Dan,

    I sure hope you are wrong to think the US is so supremely foolish in its foreign policy, as to oppose Iran’s taking its place in the natural order of things. Is Hillary Clinton that stupid, in your view?

  50. James Canning says:

    Rehmat,

    Great post. And of course you are quite right about the “rightist” configuration of the Hoover Institute at Stanford.

    Too little attention is given to the fact Iran is even now willing to do the LEU exchange for the 20% U – - and to stop enriching to 20% if the needed material is obtained in a timely fashion. The Iranian FM met with the IAEA head in Vienna on Sunday.

  51. James Canning says:

    kooshy,

    Are you suggesting that the foolish gigantic US military presence in the Gulf is driving forward the Iranian enrichment of uranium? Or would Iran want to enrich uranium, given that it has this right under the NPY, even if the US military presence in the Gulf was fairly small?

  52. Rehmat says:

    Abbas Milani doesn’t represent Iranian nation but the western anti-Islamist agenda. One has just to know his bed fellows and the pro-Israel staff at the Stanford University and Hoover Institute. Therefore, I would not worry about his distortion of NPT position on enrichment – which is being enjoyed by over 45 other countries in the world withot Washington being worried about their being threat to Israel or West’s proxy governments in the Middle East or elsewhere.

    The US and its nuclear allies have funny way of dealing with the so-called “nuclear threat”. They want the terrorist states to maintain their nuclear arsenal – but are very affraid that some of the groups fighting these terrorist state – may get hold of some of the nuclear bombs the distant future.

    Islamic Republic had a contract with French government to supply the enriched fuel for its cancer isotope nuclear reactor – which Paris abandoned under Washington and Tel Aviv pressure. Tehran is still willing to stop its enrichment activities if some reliable source for it uranium need can be found.

    It is not Tehran, but the US and its allies who are acting against the constitution of NPT.

    Iran at a Crossroads
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/03/14/iran-at-a-crossroads/

  53. Dan Cooper says:

    Lysander

    I could not agree more with your post of April 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    You wrote and I Quote:

    American interest is to ensure that Israel remain the unchallenged power in the Middle East.

    Iran *is* the most powerful country in the Middle East by far.

    Were all US sanctions lifted today, Iran would become a serious player on the world stage.

    But even without Israel, the US would want to be the unchallenged power in the Persian Gulf.

    A strong Iran, even led by moderates, would be a potential challenger.

    That is why, sanctions will never be lifted, no matter what Iran does, no matter who becomes president.

  54. Alan says:

    Cyrus – yes they were, the six (or was it five?) points of the Work Plan. Sadly the IAEA moved the goalposts just as the last point was resolved and made the “Alleged Studies” a seventh point. I believe they still referred Iran to the UNSC as violating their Safeguards Agreement on the grounds that they were too “obstructive” over the Alleged Studies, which pre-dated the Work Plan and were not seen as sufficiently problematic to be included in it in the first place.

    So strictly speaking, I believe they were and are, for IAEA purposes, in violation of their NPT commitments, although this is now a political rather than a technical matter.

  55. kooshy says:

    Lysander you have made a very precise analysis of the US policy toward Iran, Iranian’s on occasions and when possible rightly have made advances toward a limited restart of relations with US based on mutually fair interests of both sides, unfortunately hat will not satisfy brooder US’s regional goals.

    “But even without Israel, the US would want to be the unchallenged power in the Persian Gulf. A strong Iran, even led by moderates, would be a potential challenger.”

    This is also precisely correct and as you mentioned a direct war was never an option (a neighboring proxy war was possible), therefore you need to contain for whatever reasons you may find with whatever tools you can get.

    I believe, fortunately for Iran due to various facts the balance of power in the region and the world is changing rapidly, that will bring changes in attitudes that was not possible before

    For last 200 years Iran and Iranians have struggled for independence from outside hegemonic powers, this has now been symbolized in from of nuclear struggle with this same hegemonic outside powers, therefore on national bases is now impossible to be bargained away even with crippling western sanctions, and regardless of what people like Mr. Milani think Iran’s rights must be.

  56. Eric A. Brill says:

    Milani says, on the one hand, that Iran has no right to enrich uranium (because, in his view, this is a conditional right under the NPT and Iran hasn’t satisfied the conditions) but, on the other hand, the US and Iran ought to sit down and talk about all sorts of things without preconditions.

    Is it just me, or does it strike others that walking into the room and announcing that your negotiating partner has no right to enrich uranium sound like a “precondition”?

  57. Lysander says:

    James, maybe my post wasn’t well written. It is of no harm whatsoever to the American public if Iran becomes wealthy. To the contrary, they would benefit from greater availabilty of energy resources. Iran is not going to launch any attack against anyone. They will close the straights of Hormuz **only** in the event of a sustained US attack on Iran, and never otherwise.

    I don’t think we have any disagreement at all on that. But the people who make policy for the US will not tolerate an Iran as powerful as its potential suggests, for the reasons stated in my earlier post.

  58. James Canning says:

    Lysander,

    Iranian policy is to keep the shipping lanes of the Gulf open to all nations, unless war erupts. Why should the US taxpayer spend a hundred billion dollars per year to “protect” the Gulf, when there is no need for such protection (unless Israel launches an insane attack)?

    Iran will be a rich country, and this would be very much in the best interests of the American people. Iran is not going to attack Israel, full stop. Unless Israel attacks first.

    A policy of trying to repress Iran, to “protect” Israel, is lunacy of the first dimension.

  59. James Canning says:

    A little off topic, perhaps, but we all should not Saad Hariri’s frequent warnings that Israel is lying about what support Hezbollah is provided by Syria, in order apparently to set up yet another murderous rampage. Many US newspapers spooned up the totally unsupported claim of Shimon Peres that Syria had supplied scud missiles to Hezbollah.

  60. Lysander says:

    The problem with US Iran engagement is that the US will only accept a relationship with Iran on the basis of that with Egypt, Jordan or Saudi Arabia. I’m not sure if Professor Milani is unaware of that or just doesn’t care. Current Iranian leadership OTOH, sees a rapprochement based on some degree of equality or at least mutual respect.

    Also, I’m not sure the interests of Iran and the US truly overlap. American interests (or perhaps burdensome goal or desire is a better term) is to ensure that Israel remain the unchallenged power in the middle east. Any legitimate Iranian government will want it to be Iran. Potentially, Iran *is* the most powerful country in the middle east by far. Were all US sanctions lifted today, Iran would become in time a serious player on the world stage on the level of Brazil. It would be the major oil producer, probably doubling what it exports now. It would also be a major natural gas supplier to India and China, if not Europe. Technological advancement would flourish as Iran has excellent universities and talented students, scientists and technicians. Every big corporation would rush to invest in Iran. Every nation will want to tap a huge market. By contrast, Israel is about as powerful as it is going to be.

    But even without Israel, the US would want to be the unchallenged power in the Persian gulf. A strong Iran, even led by moderates, would be a potential challenger.

    That is why sanctions will never be lifted, no matter what Iran does, no matter who becomes president, or supreme leader. Not even if the son of the Shah returns. Without the prospect of sanctions being lifted, Iran has no incentive to pursue any bargain with the us, beyond the tactical short term.

    I think Iranian leaders may have only realized that recently. They may have thought earlier that common interests in Afghanistan might have formed a basis for engagement. Or that the nuclear program could be bargained away in exchange for full normalization. But I think now they know better.

    Therefore, no matter what Iran does, US objectives will be to hinder Iran by whatever means available. If war were an option, the US would not hesitate. Otherwise the order of the day is isolation, “containment,” economic sanctions with a goal towards internal destabilization. The latter being not simply to overthrow the government but possibly to break Iran into its smaller ethnic components.

    If Milan realized that, I don’t think he would speak enthusiastically on behalf of the Green movement.

  61. James Canning says:

    Fiorangela,

    Bravo! The Reagan administration justified the squandering of at least $1 trillion on useless or nunnecessary weapons, by hyping the “threat” posed by the USSR. And who played the key role in deceiving the American public about that “threat”? Step forward, Bob Gates.

  62. James Canning says:

    Certainly, Obama is badly bungling his so-called “outreach” to Iran, if he expects the Iranian government to stop enriching uranium – - at least at this juncture. Let’s remember the arrogance and stupidity of the Bush administration’s failure to support Russian efforts to maintain control of the nuclear fuel cycle for the Iranian nuclear power stations.

  63. Cyrus says:

    Even if the Treaty had an “abrogation” clause, Iran has never been found in violation of the NPT. Iran may have violated a Safeguards agreement with the IAEA but that is not the same thing as violating the NPT, and Iran’s safeguards breaches were corrected to the IAEA’s satisfaction.

  64. Fiorangela Leone says:

    The problem with Milani’s conviction that the model for US – Iran engagement is the Russia model is that the Russia model is like the proverbial elephant: it’s characteristics are radically different depending on which part of the elephant is in view.

    Die-hard Reaganites think Reagan brought down the Soviet Union; the Pentagon/MIC is persuaded that hypermilitarization caused Russia to say, “Uncle.” David Petraeus seems to be pursuing this path and trying to start an arms race in the region by pointing to Iran as an outsized threat. As Richard Rhodes explained in Arsenals of Folly

    “”American officials frequently and deliberately inflated their estimates of military threats facing the United States, beginning with the 1950 report to President Truman, known as NSC-68, that exaggerated Soviet military capabilities.

    for political advantage. “Fear is a very dangerous thing,” said British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin after World War I. “It is quite true that it may act as a deterrent in people’s minds against war, but it is much more likely to act to make them want to increase armaments….”

    As we know from misleading assessments about Iraq and now Iran, threat inflation has continued to this day. … “”

    Few people recognize the important contributions made by Andrei Gromyko in persistently pursuing tough, honest, and comprehensive negotiations with the US, never for a moment ceding the interests of the US but working to bring the two nations closer to peaceful coexistence. When Flynt and Hillary point to the China model, I think they are attempting to make the point that good-faith diplomacy is a superior strategy to threats and sabre-rattling.

    Perhaps Prof. Milani could be more specific in defining what aspects of the Russia model he thinks will be effective.

  65. Fiorangela Leone says:

    Help is on the way, Flynt.
    Three 13-year old girls were awarded the Grand Prize in C Span’s StudentCam competition; they appeared on Washington Journal this morning to discuss their video, on Nuclear Energy.

    One caller challenged the girls’ conclusions that it would be a good idea for the US to build more nuclear power plants. He said, “Nuclear power plants would be targets for terrorists. If terrorists had aimed at a nuclear plant instead of an office building, the entire East coast would have been destroyed.”

    Unfazed, the girls pointed to a 1980 study that tested the possibility of an airplane strike on a nuclear plant: an airliner was fastened to a skid and rammed into a nuclear plant wall at 500 miles/hour; the wall was not damaged.

    All those years of planting fear in the hearts of Americans undone by 13-year old girls. Condoleeza Rice’s claim that “nobody imagined a plane used as a weapon” undone by 13-year old girls. Dennis Ross’s exertions that Americans must be afraid, be very afraid of nuclear hijinx, undone by 13 year old girls.

    The possibility of a bridge between the young people of the United States and the young people of Iran, nascent in McKinley Middle Charter School in Racine, Wisconsin http://www.studentcam.org/Winners10.htm