The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Iran Taking War Threats Seriously?

Via Meadia has long believed that, while President Obama doesn’t want to go to war with Iran over its nuclear program, he would take military action as a last resort.

A new report from Iran’s intelligence ministry, widely reprinted in the Iranian press, suggests that Iranians are starting to take this possibility seriously. The Washington Post has the story:

The findings in the report suggest that the ministry has a pragmatic understanding of the challenges the country faces, the cost it is paying for continuing uranium enrichment at current levels, the threat of Israeli aggression and, perhaps most important, a way out of the stalemate. . . .

Ignoring the possibility of “imminent force,” the report says, would be an “unforgivable sin.” To avoid such a military confrontation, the report advises: “One of the options is to take diplomatic and political measures and use the potentials of international bodies, which is a necessary and less costly option.”

This is good news, if true. Negotiations with Iran will be hard to pull off, but both sides have an interest in avoiding war—Iran, of course, more so than the United States. What would be an expensive and unpopular exercise for the U.S. would be an existential threat to Iran’s mullahs.

It appears that Iranians will not be ready to begin serious negotiations until they understand America’s resolve and fear the consequences of a failure to reach agreement. The rising pressure on Iran’s ugly client in Damascus is also a factor, and one more reason why the U.S. should continue to push Assad.

UPDATE: Perhaps the Iranians are worried about this.

Published on November 8, 2012 7:00 pm