Iran Nuclear Meeting Held Today
At least 35 Iranians were killed in a suicide attack against a high-level meeting of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers, reports The Daily Star. The attack was carried out by the Sunni group Jundallah from Baluchistan, a province that neighbors Pakistan. The article quotes Saman Zarifi of Amnesty International who worries Iran might respond by executing Baluchi prisoners, as they have in the past.
In response, U.S. officials denied involvement and stated “we condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives.” Nonetheless, Iranian officials have accused the U.S. and Britain of sponsoring the terrorist group. Writing for the Washington Note, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett predict the attack will “intensify suspicions about the strategic intentions” of the U.S. and its allies. They urge President Obama to “scale back or stop” American overt and covert democracy promotion programs in Iran to prove his willingness to engage Iran.
The attack may dampen prospects for today’s nuclear meeting between the U.S., Russia, France and Iran. The goal is to sign a general agreement to externally convert Iran’s uranium into specialized plates suitable for research. In such a form, Iran would be unable to weaponize the uranium. According to Time, President Obama has been personally involved in backroom talks since June to push this deal. At the Daily Beast, Woodrow Wilson Center scholar Michael Adler observes, “if Iran follows through with the deal, it would no longer have enough enriched uranium to make an atomic weapon. For now, that is.”
During Iran’s official Friday sermon, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati interpreted the Geneva negotiations as a “great victory and a sign of strength” for Iran. Given those remarks, Michael Ledeen contends the chance for a deal “doesn’t look good.” Ledeen has been central in promoting growing rumors that Supreme Leader Khamenei has fallen deathly ill, though other sources have emphatically denied the rumors.
In The Washington Post, Joseph Cirincione details five myths the U.S. must abolish to have success in dealing with Iran. They are: Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons, a military strike would be effective, sanctions will cripple Iran, a new government in Iran would abandon the nuclear program, and Iran is the main nuclear threat in the region. In Foreign Policy, Larry Franklin argues that the U.S. should not limit its options to military action or accommodation. Instead, the U.S. should “offer its unwavering support to the Iranian opposition, strengthening and broadening this newly reawakened movement” as part of a containment strategy. The Arabist criticizes a recent article by John Hannah (see our previous post) that suggested Iranians are split over potential sanctions and bombing.
In Iran, the state-run Iran Martyr Foundation announced it will name Neda Agha-Soltan, the slain woman who became the rallying cry of the opposition movement, a martyr. President Ahmadinejad has called for an investigation as police have claimed her death was staged. Meanwhile, Iran freed Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari on bail this weekend. He has been charged with espionage and could be executed if convicted. Setareh Sabety at the Tehran Bureau focuses attention on the hundreds of other political prisoners who “are languishing and undergoing physical and mental torture in the prisons, for no other reason than expressing their beliefs.”