News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 8.

  • Wall Street Journal: The neoconservative editorial board of the Wall Street Journal is ready to declare International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of Iran’s nuclear program and sanctions against Iran a failure. Riffing about the latest IAEA report that Iran is limiting the agency’s access to and information about its nuclear program — using such phrases as “Ho-hum” and “Groundhog Day, the Persian movie classic”– the editors are ready for more bold action. They conclude the IAEA report “ought to rally our leaders to explain the grave stakes here, in particular that military force might be needed as diplomacy and sanctions seem to be failing, and rally the world to stop Iran from acquiring a bomb.”
  • openDemocracy: Iranian journalist and blogger Omid Memarian checks in to give a cogent analysis of Iranian internal politics and how they could be potentially effected by external pressure. Memarian notes Iranian leadership is used to dealing with such pressure and  then exploiting it to shore up its power. He points out there are many “positives” for Iran’s hard-line leaders among the list of “disastrous effects” of a military assault on Iran, and that such a scenario “would lead to more human-rights violations, worsen the situation for Iran’s middle class, push Iran further towards dictatorship and end any prospect of a more democratic country in the near future.” He adds “by removing the threat of a military attack, Washington would make the job of Tehran’s hardliners more difficult.”
  • The Daily Telegraph: Malcolm Moore reports on China’s plans to sign a $2 billion deal to build a 360 mile railway line from Tehran to the Khosravi, an Iranian town bordering Iraq.  The Iranian government says the project could eventually link Iran, Iraq and possibly Syria.  The project might be the first step for China in constructing rail link to Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and eventually Kashgar in China.  This modern day Silk Route would give China access to Iran’s port of Chahbahar on the Persian Gulf and on overland route to Europe. “Iran is determined to forge tighter links with its neighbours, and rebuild itself as a trade hub, in order to build a regional alliance that would support it against NATO countries,” writes Moore.
  • Council on Foreign Relations: In remarks delivered as part of a conversation with CFR president Richard Haass, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed Iran sanctions as “an example of American leadership in action.” Clinton said that American willingness to engage in diplomatic efforts regarding Iran has “re-energized the conversation” with allies, strengthened the global non-proliferation regime, and “through shoe-leather diplomacy” built a consensus of countries who will hold Iran accountable to meet its obligations under the NPT.  Clinton called on Iran’s leadership to “meet the responsibilities incumbent upon all nations and enjoy the benefits of integration into the international community, or continue to flout your obligations and accept increasing isolation and costs.”