Tag Archives: iran nuclear program

#Iran: Rouhani’s most interesting speech to date

4 Jan
Hassan_Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani

Why?  

Most importantly because in his speech today, President Rouhani asked for or as the Financial Times put it, “threatened” to hold a referendum in Iran.

The Iranian president stated that Iran’s constitution allows such referendums for important issues such as economic, political, cultural and social related matters. Although he didn’t specifically say for which issue he wants a referendum, I think its safe to assume that he was talking about the nuclear program. This is right now the most important decision for the nezam or the system of the Islamic Republic to make.

So why would Rouhani call for a referendum?

Most probably because he is confident that the people would back his nuclear strategy, which is assumed to be more flexible than that of the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the hardliners around him.

Why propose a referendum now?

Here we are looking at two possibilities:

1 –  Rouhani is engaged in a behind the scenes tug of war with the hardliners regarding nuclear talks, and he believes that in a referendum the people would back him, thus tipping the balance in his favor.

2- give Ayatollah Khamenei a ladder to climb down from his current nuclear position. When it comes to face-saving, a referendum would provide the perfect excuse for the supreme leader. Ayatollah Khamenei could say that he didn’t want to compromise with the Americans, but as the people demanded otherwise, he had no other choice but to listen, “as he has always done” or so he could claim.

In the same speech today Rouhani also attacked monopolistic powers in Iran (in other words the Revolutionary Guards).

What next? – short-term

The Revolutionary Guards and the hardliners are not going to sit still. Rouhani should expect retaliation from them, perhaps in the parliamenet. They could dismiss yet another one of his minister.

What next? – long-term

Difficult to say. But if Rouhani feels confident enough to challenge the IRGC and the hardliners to a referendum, then it seems he is not as passive as some believed he was going to be (regarding the nuclear program). It also seems that the people could live with what the hardliners call “a bad deal”.

#Iran in 2014

26 Dec

In 2014, to foresee Iran’s behavior at the nuclear negotiations, we must look at domestic politics.
My latest article explains:
http://www.thejc.com/news/israel-news/114255/to-predict-nuclear-talks-watch-iran%E2%80%99s-domestic-politics-closely

An Israeli debate about Iran’s nuclear program

16 Dec

How do Israelis see the latest deal between Iran and the P5+1? As far as Israel is concerned, what should a final deal with Iran look like?

These are some of the questions which Emily Landau and I discuss in Tel Aviv. Dr Landau is an expert on Iran’s nuclear program at the INSS institute in Tel Aviv.

http://bloggingheads.tv/videos/23959?in=00:00&out=41:00

Iran nuclear talks snag: could be related to domestic politics

13 Dec

Iran’s Parliament (The Majles)

According to Reuters, talks between Iran and the P5+1 have hit a snag.

The reason is believed to be the Iranian regime’s unhappiness with the US adding new companies and individuals to its list of sanction evaders.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi sees these additions as “new sanctions”. According to his statement published on Fars news (and reprinted in Reuters):

“We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals. It is against the spirit of the Geneva deal.”

Fact: these are not “new sanctions” as Mr Araqchi states. These companies and individuals were punished as part of existing sanctions. And the US is not breaking the Geneva agreement by continuing with the existing sanctions.

Its very possible that the Iranian side is doing this because the Rouhani administration is coming under increasing pressure at home from those in the Conservative camp who oppose the Geneva deal. With this latest maneuver, the Rouhani administration could be trying to earn some street cred among the hardliners, who are becoming increasingly vociferous.

John Kerry has reason to be thankful. This latest move by Tehran will hurt those in Washington and Jerusalem who accuse the Obama administration of being “desperate”, “naive” and “falling over itself to sign a deal with the Iranians no matter what”.

The reaction by the Iranian team can be used as clear evidence that the US is serious about maintaining existing sanctions, regardless of whether Iran’s leaders like it or not.

Netanyahu is wrong on Iran deal

28 Nov

Why I believe the Geneva deal with Iran is a good for Israel, as an interim deal

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/11/netanyahu-wrong-iran-deal-enrichment-centrifuges-plutonium.html

International implications of the #Iran nuclear deal

26 Nov

Numerous questions have been asked about the implications of the recent Geneva deal for the international community and for Iran’s nuclear program.

I tried to answer them in this interview

http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2577520/iran

On US – Israel relations: a victory for Rouhani

8 Nov

Relations between the Obama administration and Netanyahu are about to get worse. Much worse. 

Why?

First is the peace process with the Palestinians. It seems that the Obama administration is seriously angry at the recent decision by the Netanyahu government to build 1700 new homes in the settlements. Kerry’s comments showed this yesterday when he warned that unless we reach a deal, a 3rd intifadah could erupt. This has angered officials inside Netanyahu’s office. Their response was:

Israel, said one official, would not “give in to the intimidation tactics” of the secretary, and would not compromise on its vital security needs.

Then there are differences over Iran.

It is my strong belief that the tensions and serious differences between Obama and Netanyahu over the settlements is influencing their dealings and relations with regards to Iran. Judging by his statements today, Netanyahu feels he is being pushed by Obama on the Palestinian issue, so he is pushing back on the Iran file. And he will continue to push back by getting his allies in the Congress to pass new sanctions against Iran, thus scuppering a possible nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran.

The Likud and the Democrats have historically had a tenuous relationship. Bill Clinton and Netanyahu had a very difficult and at times bad relationship. Obama and Netanyahu have had a tough relationship. Their frayed relations could be about to hit its lowest point. 

It seems that Rouhani has just scored his first big foreign policy win. I am sure he is hoping that Israel builds more settlement homes. They seem to be doing wonders for Iran’s plans and wishes to drive a wedge between the US and Israel.  

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