Iran: deal or no deal?

The issue that never goes away is back in the news again: Iran’s nuclear program, and the proper western response to it, are again under discussion following Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s visit this week to the United Nations.

Rouhani has generally had good reviews. Most observers seem to accept that both he and the United States administration are sincere in their professions of a desire to reach an agreement and to pursue the path of negotiation rather than confrontation. The latest moves, in which Rouhani and Barack Obama spoke briefly but constructively by telephone, are particularly encouraging.

It doesn’t follow that an agreement will turn out to be possible, since some conflicts are inherently insoluble. But this really doesn’t look like one of them: the two sides’ public positions have never been so far apart as to suggest that negotiations would be fruitless.

Conspicuously dissenting from this optimistic assessment, of course, is Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his American cheer squad. The Israeli delegation boycotted Rouhani’s UN address, and Netanyahu continues to denounce Rouhani as “cynical” and “full of hypocrisy”. In the words of the New York Times report, “Mr. Netanyahu and other Israeli officials point to Tehran’s recent installation of advanced centrifuges and its continued denial of access to its nuclear facilities as evidence that it is working toward such weapons.”

The assumption in most of the reporting is that Netanyahu’s fears, whether or not they are well-founded, are at least genuinely held, and that his objective is to resolve the issue in a way favorable to Israel. But I’m not convinced that this is true.

For example, here’s Nicholas Burns, writing in the Boston Globe on Wednesday:

The late Israeli leader, Yitzhak Rabin, said famously, “You don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.” Those are words a suspicious Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already warning about the folly of diplomacy with Iran, might contemplate. Iran presents a rare opportunity for breakthrough diplomacy.

Fine sentiments. But they assume that Netanyahu wants an agreement to be reached. What if he doesn’t? What if, as I suggested six months ago, his objective is to keep the nuclear issue bubbling away for as long as possible, because an Iranian bogey is politically useful to him both domestically and internationally?

That’s unlikely to sway Obama, and apparently some in Israel have also started to have doubts about the Netanyahu strategy. Yair Lapid, the centrist finance minister, criticised the boycott of Rouhani’s speech and said “Israel shouldn’t be portrayed as a serial objector to negotiations.”

But a country’s interests and a leader’s political interests are not the same thing, and when they diverge, it’s often the latter that gets priority. That’s been the case in Iran in the past under Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It’s not particularly far-fetched to think that it might also be the case in Israel.


3 thoughts on “Iran: deal or no deal?

  1. The Israeli’s will never be satisfied till they have bombed then “bankstered” Iran. Once they have established a central bank there they will have full control of not just Irans oil, but their next step in completely controlling the middle east. There are only 3 countries left without central banks, Iran, Cuba, Nth Korea and yes of course they are the “axis of evil” remember whilst we are the nations of the West who are pure with the best of morals who have free speech like the Murdoch Press and a government for the people controlled by corporate enterprise and funded by the bankster elite who also seek Iran to its collection.

    Why are the Yanks/israeli’s so worried about Iran having a nuclear detterent? Just about everyone has them now. Is it a crime for a sovereign country to seek their own course without it being a crime??

    As for the nonsense coming from Israel about terrorist attacks, just look at what they are waging not just on Palestinians but right around the world. They are in fact the most modern terrorists of our age.


  2. Owen,
    Iran, Cuba and North Korea have central banks – try‎ , , and

    For a moment I thought you really were a fruit loop peddling the theory that the Jews owned all the central banks of the world with the exception of the central banks of these three countries. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and it must just be a coincidence that the three above banks are also mentioned as being exceptions at right wing extremist sites such as “Do the Rothschilds Own all Central Banks? – Stormfront” see .

    This thesis also seems to be a direct lift from “Only 3 countries left w/o ROTHSCHILD Central Bank!” at

    The latter site is a compendium of wonderful and wacky conspiracy theories (from 9/11, mind control, new world order to anti-vaccination) with a bit of creationism thrown in that would appeal to any paranoid floridly delusional Christian fundamentalist.


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