Iran is probably rethinking its strategy.
The Islamic Republic observed
how Syria, with Russia’s assistance, has wiggled out from what was to be limited
US strikes not meant to topple the regime. Iran is famous for its diplomatic
prowess – its ability to drag out negotiations with the West over its nuclear
program – knowing exactly when to push on the peddle and when to ease up in its
pursuit to the bomb.
So the ayatollah’s will take note at how effectively
Syria was able to split the international community over the planned attack and
how uneasy people in the West are to military interventions in the Middle
However, the threat of a unilateral attack by the US or Israel
still hangs in the air, so Iran may try to proceed carefully as the charm
offensive by newly elected President Hassan Rouhani gets into full
Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council
told The Jerusalem Post that “Rouhani is already taking some credit for the
Russian proposal at home, using it to show that his diplomacy pays greater
dividends than Ahmadinejad’s theatrics".
“This can win him more
maneuverability on the nuclear issue,” he said, adding that if the Syria
situation calms down, it would likely “make Tehran feel strengthened.”
Ambassador Joseph Macmanus said on Wednesday that Iran had further expanded its
uranium enrichment capacity by continuing to install both advanced and
first-generation centrifuges, calling these steps “concerning escalations of an
already prohibited activity.”
Iran is also making further progress in the
construction of a reactor, Arak, that can yield plutonium for bombs, including
putting the reactor vessel in place and beginning to make fuel, Macmanus said.
“All of these are troubling developments.”
Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at
the Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior advisor on Iran at the US
State Department told the Post that he suspects that the way the Syrian issue is
playing out is likely leaving “the Iranians feeling somewhat
“The international community’s reticence to use force and
its referral of the matter to the cumbersome UN process offer them an
opportunity to relax a bit,” he said.
Emily Landau, a senior research
fellow and the director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the
INSS, stated to the Post that Iran is paying close attention to “how deep the
divide is between the US and Russia” and how Europe essentially removed itself
as a real player in this drama.
Even though there are differences between
the Syrian issue – which is based on chemical weapons – and the Iranian nuclear
file, “this is a kind of test case for the international community in facing
serious noncompliance in the WMD realm,” she said.
Landau points out that
there are positive and negative implications that may be drawn from the outcome
of the Syrian situation. The good news is that Iran, Russia and Syria saw the US
threat to use force as real despite some wavering by US President Barack Obama
over the past weeks.
It was this threat, she noted, that caused Russia
and Syria to come up with this alternate proposal thus demonstrating that the US
is able to modify behavior of rogue regimes if it chooses to do
Furthermore, the success of the Russian proposal could result in “the
US and Russia moving closer together meaning Iran cannot count on Russia and the
US to be on opposite sides regarding its ongoing nuclear progress.”
the negative side, we have yet to see how this plays out, and what Obama does if
the Russian proposal does not materialize into an effective plan,” she
If this is the case, then the ball will be back in Obama’s court
and “the question of US action will again be at the forefront.”
contributed to this report.