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from The Great Debate:

Iran election opens door to U.S. talks

Paul Taylor-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

A wind of change is blowing through Iran, where hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faces an increasingly tough battle for re-election on Friday.

Whether or not Ahmadinejad fends off reformist Mirhossein Moussavi and two other candidates after a turbulent campaign, Iran is likely to be more open to talks with the United States on a possible "grand bargain" to end 30 years of hostility. Tehran will not give up its nuclear program, whoever wins. But it may be persuaded to stop short of testing or making a bomb.

There is a sense of deja vu about this election.

In 1997, a soft-spoken reformist, Mohammad Khatami, swept to a surprise landslide victory over the establishment candidate, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, on a tide of young people and women clamoring for greater freedom. But after his supporters won control of parliament, the conservative clerical establishment used unelected institutions in Iran's complex power system to neutralize Khatami and block his liberal agenda.

There is, however, a crucial difference this time.

The United States, which had a policy of "dual containment" of Iran and Iraq at the time, never seized the opportunity of Khatami's victory to open a dialogue. Now, U.S. President Barack Obama is waiting with an outstretched hand and has made crucial gestures by accepting the Islamic Republic by its name, offering talks without pre-conditions and admitting Washington's role in ousting nationalist Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Hot button issue

Not the best day at the office yesterday for Benjamin Netanyahu. For a man with one finger on the button of Israel's presumed nuclear deterrent and the other wagging warningly at Iran, there are better ways to inspire confidence than getting your buttons mixed up in public.

netanyahuThat's what happened to the prime minister, though, prompting this awkward explanation in the Knesset of why he had cast the only electronic vote against a parliamentary bill proposed by his own government.

from The Great Debate UK:

Justification of new nuclear power in the UK

Paul Dorfman- Paul Dorfman is with the Nuclear Consultation Group and a senior research fellow at the University of Warwick. The opinions expressed are his own.

"Justification" of new-build nuclear power is a high-level assessment of whether the benefits of building new nuclear plants outweigh the detriments. Once the justification decision has been taken it will be difficult if not impossible to re-open this major issue.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Managing the message

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Gone were the track suit, the back-slapping and the wise-cracking, all part of Ehud Olmert's casual demeanor when he used to fly to the United States for White House talks and stand in the back of a chartered El Al plane, fielding questions from the travelling press.

His successor as Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, managed the media very differently this week during his first visit to the White House since taking office on March 31.

from The Great Debate UK:

Breaking the deadlock on nuclear disarmament

John Duncan - John Duncan is the United Kingdom Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament. He comments regularly via Twitter and on his own Blog. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Nuclear disarmament has been rather knocked out of the foreign affairs headlines over recent weeks by more immediate concerns over potential pandemics, the Indian election and the endgame of the long running conflict in Sri Lanka. But last week while the world’s media were looking elsewhere the international arms control and disarmament community took a remarkable step to break what has been called the “Decade of Deadlock”.

from The Great Debate:

Iran sanctions and wishful thinking

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

So what's so difficult in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program? All it needs is a great American leader who uses sanctions to break the Iranian economy so badly that popular discontent sweeps away the leadership. It is replaced without a shot being fired.

from The Great Debate UK:

Iran sanctions and wishful thinking

[CROSSPOST blog: 44 post: 3360]

Original Post Text:
Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate
-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

So what's so difficult in getting Iran to drop its nuclear program? All it needs is a great American leader who uses sanctions to break the Iranian economy so badly that popular discontent sweeps away the leadership. It is replaced without a shot being fired.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Nuclear South Asia: Iran fires a shot at India

Iran looks like it will come out swinging at a global conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opening in New York on Monday, and in the process take a swipe at Israel as well as India.

And that is a bit of a shift, for India and Iran have ties going back into history, but which have in recent years come under pressure and play in the tangled relationship between India and Pakistan.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Want peace? Blunt Iran, Netanyahu aide says

As Benjamin Netanyahu's top pick for national security adviser, Uzi Arad will be key to crafting the foreign and defence policies of the incoming Israeli government.

Arad is a retired official of the Mossad intelligence agency who served under the hawkish Netanyahu during his first term as prime minister in 1996-1999. That period saw Israel pursuing U.S.-sponsored interim peace negotiations with the Palestinians, as well as tentative rapprochement with Syria.

from Global News Journal:

Politics and paranoia complicate IAEA’S work on Iran, Syria

The U.N. nuclear non-proliferation watchdog assiduously guards its impartiality as it monitors and investigates disputed activity in Iran and Syria, with suspicious Western powers impatient for the inspectors to draw conclusions.

So the International Atomic Energy Agency typically puts what have become keenly anticipated, quarterly reports on Iran and Syria through many painstaking drafts before they see the light of day, to help ensure that not a single word can be misunderstood, misinterpreted or turned to political advantage.

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