Does Iran Feel Squeezed?

(National Interest) Dov S. Zakheim - Will sanctions force a change in Iranian behavior sufficient to forestall an Israeli attack, or for that matter, one by the U.S.? President Obama certainly appears to think so. He has once again extended an offer to talk with Iran, and to mend relations, even as he presses for ever tougher sanctions that he seems to believe will force Iran to jettison its nuclear weapons program. President Ahmadinejad was his usual defiant self at the UN and did not sound like someone who felt cowed by the sanctions. But Ahmadinejad does not control foreign policy or national security; those portfolios remain in the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There is no evidence that Khamenei is prepared to do anything more than permit his diplomats to engage in yet another round of talks with the Western powers even as the nuclear program proceeds apace. Indeed, Khamenei may well view Obama's recurrent offers of both talks and improved relations as a sign of American weakness. The sanctions therefore might be affecting Iran's economy, but not necessarily its policies. The writer served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Planning and Resources during the Reagan administration and Undersecretary of Defense and Comptroller during the George W. Bush administration.

2010-09-28 09:24:43

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