It is no wonder that the Obama Administration is currently displaying great caution while not rushing to engage in dialogue with Iran as it pledged to do.
On the one hand, according to all indications President Barack Obama is very much interested in talking to the Iranians. He needs the Iranian leadership's goodwill not only in order to neutralize Tehran's race to a nuclear bomb, but also to guarantee the stability secured in Iraq as the US withdraws its troop from there. Iran can also assist in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and possibly even minimize its provocative involvement in the Persian Gulf and in our region via its aid to Hizbullah, Hamas, and Syria.
At the same time, the president and senior Administration officials are concerned that Iran will use the "dialogue' with the US in order to buy more time, thereby enabling the regime in Tehran to complete the infrastructure needed for quickly producing nuclear weapons, and possibly even build such weapons, just like North Korea did. The US is unwilling to see the Iranians presenting America as a meaningless power at the end of the dialogue. This will further boost Iran's prestige in the Muslim world while eroding the US' status as an element that influences and protects moderate regimes in the Middle East.
In order to prevent such development, the Administration in Washington is thoroughly preparing for dialogue. The first stage is determining the objectives which the US aims to achieve. Statements made by senior officials make it appear that Obama aspires to see an end to uranium enrichment within Iranian territory. To that end, the American Administration is apparently wiling to pledge that it won't undermine the current Iranian regime, won't stage a military strike on Iran, and provide Tehran with a generous aid package and investments in the oil industry. The US may also agree to end Iran's international isolation and help it establish and operate nuclear reactors for civilian purposes.
The US, Europe, and Russia promised to provide Iran with enriched uranium for such reactors should it stop enriching uranium on its own.
However, the US may be willing to accept less than a complete halt to uranium enrichment. Senior Israeli officials are concerned that the US will be willing to make do with an Iranian pledge, to be verified by the IAEA, to suspend uranium enrichment for a limited time while refraining from developing and building nuclear warheads.
This will enable Iran to continue its military nuclear plan in the future while deceiving United Nations inspectors as it did in the past. The US is aware of these concerns and is attempting to allay the fears of Israel and European Union members – whose generous compromise offers have been rejected by Iran thus far.
Part 2 of analysis to be published Wednesday night