News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 16th, 2010:

  • The Financial Times: Daniel Dombey reports that the White House has warned Turkey that it could lose access to U.S. weapons, including drone aircraft that Ankara wants to acquire for use in their fight with the Kurdish separatist PKK party after the United States pulls out of Iraq next year. Dombey quotes a senior administration official as saying, “The president has said to [Prime Minister] Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress]…about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally. That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry that it would like to fight the PKK, will be harder for us to move through Congress.”  The White House was, reportedly, disappointed with Turkey’s opposition to UN sanctions against Iran.
  • The Weekly Standard Blog: Michael Anton suggests that the “endgame” for Iran’s alleged nuclear program might be coming as soon as next week if, as planned, Russia will fuel and start Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr by August 21st. Anton concludes that, “[a]ny nation prepared to incur all that risk from striking Iran’s HEU sites may as well take out Bushehr as well.” Once the Bushehr facility is fully operational an attack might result in a release of poisonous radioactive materials, “Which means that if the story is true, and if the Israelis judge Bushehr to be a dangerous installation, they will have to move quickly — as in, within the next week.” Anton suggests that the Russians might be fueling Bushehr in order to bring about an Israeli or U.S. attack on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons facilities. “Certainly Moscow has reasons not to welcome a nuclear armed Iran.  Goading someone else into doing the dirty work has significant advantages.”
  • The Cable: Josh Rogin writes that the Obama administration may become more vocal in its criticisms of Iranian human rights violations. Rogin suggests that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement criticizing the sentencing of seven Baha’i leaders was the start of a new trend of speaking more openly about Iranian human rights abuses.
  • The Christian Science Monitor: Dan Murphy offers three reasons that Israel will bomb Iran. First, Israelis fear that a nuclear Iran may tip the balance of power in the region and spark an arms race among countries which deny Israel’s right to exist. Second, Israeli leaders may think that Iranian leaders are fundamentally irrational and will use a nuclear weapon even if such a decision will result in the destruction of Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs.”  Third, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust-denying rhetoric makes Israeli leadership concerned that he might act irrationally, creating an existential threat for Israel. (Murphy also offers his three reasons that Israel won’t bomb Iran in a separate article.)
  • The Washington Post: George F. Will argues that criticism of Israel’s Gaza War has left Israeli leadership and Benjamin Netanyahu believing that an international consensus is emerging that, “Israel is not allowed to exercise self-defense.”  Will writes, “Any Israeli self-defense anywhere is automatically judged “disproportionate.” Israel knows this as it watches Iran.”  U.S. willingness to pursue engagement with Iran and, according to Will, exhibiting “fatalism” towards Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, will ultimately push Netanyahu to unilaterally attack Iran.
  • The New York Daily News: AEI’s Michael Rubin echoes George F. Will’s concerns that the Obama administration is exhibiting signs that it might tolerate a nuclear weapons possessing Iran. Rubin argues that the acquisition of nuclear weapons will position Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as kingmakers and, in a worst case scenario, “…with regime survival a moot point, true believers might use their last moments to launch the bomb to fulfill objectives of destroying Israel or wounding America.” Rubin concludes, “Denying Iran nuclear capability requires tough choices. The Obama administration appears willing to embrace containment and deterrence in order to avoid them. Avoiding decisions is not leadership, however, and may prove deadly.”