No More Mr. Nice Ahmadinejad
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  • “Ouch. It’s not exactly easy for officials to save face when the rebuke is so brazen and tactless.”

    To whom is this line referring? The Iranians, or the P5+1? The observation is equally apt for both sets of officials, and both rebukes. If the Iranians’ goal in these negotiations was to play for time while the military branch of their government prepares a nuclear deterrent, then this exchange was a disaster for them as well.

    Iran’s diplomats must now go back to their leaders bearing exactly the same grim message that their former counterparties are taking to decisionmakers in Washington, London, Moscow, Beijing, and Berlin:

    “Our plan didn’t work. They called our bluff. What’s next?”
    I doubt that this development will be met with any more enthusiasm in Tehran than in any of those other capitals.

    • BrianFrankie

      >> To whom is this line referring? The Iranians, or the P5+1? The observation is equally apt for both sets of officials, and both rebukes. If the Iranians’ goal in these negotiations was to play for time while the military branch of their government prepares a nuclear deterrent, then this exchange was a disaster for them as well. <<

      This is true if and only if the Iranian government affords any weight to P5+1 rhetoric and has any respect for the will and/or ability of the P5+1 to constrain them. The evidence, in my mind, is that the Iranians do not. In which case, President Ahmadinejad's statements are cost-free to Iran.

      As far as ability to constrain goes, thus far economic and diplomatic constraints have proven to be modest annoyances rather than true constraints. And the only entity in the P5+1 with the ability to physically constrain the Iranians is the US. I do not think the Iranians believe the US has the will to act to stop their program. Certainly the Iranians are aware that the US will not be able to get international/UN support for military action, and without that authority (and perhaps even if they had that authority), they believe current administration is unlikely to take any action. I expect they are right in their estimation of US intentions.

      The only wonder to me is that the Iranians even bother to continue showing up at these negotiations. I'm not sure what they are gaining, other than a bit of idle amusement as they continually provoke the ineffectual Western diplomats. Perhaps they hope to win a small concession or two in the sancitions and thus make life a little bit easier. They are certainly not about to make any nuclear concessions. Why would they?

      • One very good reason for Iran to make concessions on their nuclear program is the ongoing experience of North Korea. From their public statements, Pyongyang seems to think that nuclear devices are like a kind of Axe Body Spray for rogue states (i.e.: making their demands absolutely irresistable). But the results they’ve gotten so far from taking their new warhead for a spin have been immensely disappointing. No new concessions from South Korea; no additional money from the West; and nothing but grief from their benefactor China. And they’ve been flogging the threat for literally all that it’s worth, with Kim Jong Un doing everything short of hooking up the launch button to a Dance Dance Revolution machine and filming a Harlem Shake video of himself and his generals firing it.

        So much for the upside. The down-side, of course, is that Iran’s neighbors are immeasurably more excitable than North Korea’s, and could react unpredictably to any similar threats

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