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IranThursday, August 30, 2012

Navigating IAEA Report on Iran

Today, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published its quarterly report on Iran. While the report reveals some troubling developments, it is not a ‘game-changer.’ Time and space remain to pursue diplomacy, which security experts believe is still the best path for U.S. and Israeli security. Calm assessment of the facts serve our interests best:  IAEA says Iran has more equipment but no increase in rate of enrichment or stockpile – thus no change in timetable. Tom Collina and Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association explain, “The IAEA’s latest quarterly report on Iran, now in circulation, finds that Tehran has installed more machines for uranium enrichment in its Fordow underground facility, but has not started to use them. This means that Iran has not… Read More ›

2012 ElectiondiplomacyIranMissile DefenseMitt RomneyNukesWednesday, July 25, 2012

Where Romney, “the Generals” Don’t Align

Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC summarized the policy community’s response to Governor Romney’s national security speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday: “Mitt Romney is yet to be specific … he has laid out a contrast but not a specific policy.” Meanwhile Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol warned  Romney not to short change national security. One of Romney’s themes is that he would listen to generals on the ground in setting policy specifics. However, the speech itself didn’t touch on several issues of topical concern to military leaders – veterans’ affairs, cybersecurity, the role of nuclear weapons; and left aside the advice of military and security experts on several others, most notably Iran and missile defense. Keeping promises to veterans. Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs,… Read More ›

AfghanistanArab SpringdiplomacyDronesIranMitt RomneyRussiaSyriaTerrorismTuesday, July 24, 2012

Key Security Challenges for Governor Romney

As Governor Romney speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno today, he has the opportunity to clarify uncertainty and lay out positions on a number of central national security issues. As one GOP foreign policy hand recently said, “we have yet to see him [Romney] present his vision for America’s role in the world more broadly (except in really generic talking points).” Iran Question: What concretely would you do differently from President Obama on Iran?  Governor Romney, you have said, “I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite.” one of your advisors, John Bolton, has argued that diplomacy and sanctions have failed and that it is time to consider the use… Read More ›

IranTuesday, July 10, 2012

Iran: Myth vs Reality

The machinery for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program – sanctions pressure and diplomatic engagement – showed encouraging movement this week.  Reuters reports today that Iran has been forced to shut off wells at its oilfields, reducing production and costing Tehran billions in lost revenues.  al Monitor reported yesterday that the “deputy nuclear negotiators for Iran and the six-nation P5+1 negotiating group will meet in Istanbul on July 24.”  According to EU officials, the objective of the talk is to “look further at how existing gaps in positions could be narrowed and how the process could be moved forward.” Bipartisan security leaders continue to say this track marks the best way forward, toward a negotiated endgame that, as diplomacy must, gives each side something of value.… Read More ›

IranWednesday, June 20, 2012

After Moscow

Moscow talks on Iran’s nuclear program ended with “the most substantive discussion” to date, and agreement for more technical talks, but no breakthrough. The U.S. position remains strong, as economic and political pressure on Iran intensifies over the coming weeks. As the House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing  on “understanding the military options,” it’s worth bearing in mind the statements of current Pentagon officials, Bush Administration officials, and Israeli national security leaders that a military strike will not destroy the program and, as Bush administration CIA Director Michael Hayden has said, would “guarantee that which we are trying to prevent.” No breakthrough, but no breakdown, in “most substantive discussion” to date. Laura Rozen of al Monitor describes the situation in Moscow: “After two grueling… Read More ›

IranMonday, June 18, 2012

Politics, Posturing and Negotiations

The latest round of negotiations between the P5+1 countries and Iran over the latter’s controversial nuclear program is currently underway in Moscow. Officials have described the scene as “tense and tough.” At home, politics, posturing and micro-managing have not ceased. But that doesn’t change the reality that, as security officials from the United States and Israel have repeatedly said, a continued diplomatic process is the best way forward. Negotiations take time, and time, right now, is on the side of the West. Romney, rooting for failure of diplomacy, tries to make political gain out of a delicate national security issue. The Los Angeles Times reports, “In hawkish remarks that drew cheers from an audience of religious conservatives, Mitt Romney accused President Obama on Saturday of… Read More ›

IranFriday, June 15, 2012

AUDIO, TRANSCRIPT: Kahl, Walsh on Iran Negotiations – Getting to Yes at Moscow and Beyond

On a press call hosted by the National Security Network today, Dr. Colin Kahl,  and Dr. Jim Walsh outlined a path for “taking ‘yes’ for an answer” with Iran, a path that leads through negotiations in Moscow next week, but does not end there. LISTEN to the call HERE READ the transcript HERE Call Highlights: On Moscow talks as a ‘make or break’ meeting. COLIN KAHL, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East: “No matter what the outcome of Moscow is, this isn’t a make or break meeting for diplomacy. If you have an agreement, it’s not going to be the final agreement, so diplomacy is going to have to continue.… Read More ›

IranThursday, June 14, 2012

Expectations For the Moscow Talks

On June 18, the next round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 will begin in Moscow.  Expectations for a breakthrough agreement at the meeting are low. However, as a former Pentagon official put it, “we must avoid letting the perfect become the enemy of the possible.” Security officials in the U.S. and Israel continue to stress that diplomacy is the preferred track, that the process will take time and that we have time on our side. The difference between the political and economic clock pressuring Iran and the technical clock on Iran’s capabilities benefits the U.S. and international partners. Low expectations heading into talks, though diplomatic dialogue remains vital. Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, explains, “The top priority must continue… Read More ›

CompetitivenessdiplomacyIranTuesday, June 12, 2012

Cratering Consensus

The realities of a more interconnected world, and the ascendancy of U.S. policies based on pragmatic, results-based engagement with friends and opponents alike, have made election-year politics of national security more problematic for the U.S.  Candidates must show they understand how the global economy works, and how the U.S. can prosper and be secure within it. Elder statesmen such as Gen. Brent Scowcroft and former Senator Chuck Hagel have noted that now would seem exactly the wrong moment to bring into question U.S. support for Europe’s efforts to end economic crisis, or a strong international consensus – supported by our military – on seeking a negotiated end to the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon.  But that is exactly what two leading Romney campaign advisers… Read More ›

IranWednesday, June 6, 2012

Realistic Expectations, or Rooting for Failure?

As the talks with Iran that career diplomat and former Under Secretary of State Nick Burns described as a “marathon not a sprint” ramp up for another round next week,  John Bolton has preemptively applauded their “failure” and renewed calls for military strikes.  But senior military and security leaders continue to say that the military option would be unwise; that Iran’s slow technical progress means we have time available for diplomacy to play out; and above all that the Iran talks are “too important to be undercut by meddling from politicians.” Romney advisor applauds ill-conceived notion of American failure, pushes for war.  As the National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes today, “Bolton, a key foreign-policy advisor to Romney, created a stir recently by appearing to rejoice… Read More ›

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