By AlJazeera Centre for Studies
Tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme have risen again, but the main determinants of the issue remain largely the same as they had previously been. As before, these determinants will most likely reduce the chances of a war being waged against Iran. New factors – particularly the upcoming elections in the United States – will act as additional restraints preventing the launch of military operations against Iran in 2012.
By Fatima Alsmadi
Has Iran’s position on Syria begun to change? This is a crucial question, as Iran’s tone toward military action against Syria has altered from being threatening throughout years of supporting the Syrian president, Bashar Al-Asad, to milder rhetoric. It appears that the issues around the use of chemical weapons instigated this change. The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, strongly criticised the use of chemical weapons in a Twitter post, and his subsequent tweets supported the forcible prevention of their use. This coincided with the threat of a military strike on Syria – Iran’s strategic ally in the region – by the United States and some of its allies.
By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett
The first anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration as President of the United States came this week. The sharpest criticism of Obama's first-year record on domestic and economic affairs came from the Nobel prize-winning economist, New York Times columnist, and Princeton professor Paul Krugman.
This line from Krugman encapsulates the concern many of us have:
"I'm pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt that I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in."
By Peter Jenkins
The US and its European partners are continuing to set stiff conditions for recognising Iran's nuclear rights and addressing issues of concern to Iran. That is the implication of the stress in recent statements on Iran 'meeting its international obligations', since it must be assumed that Western capitals believe that the UN Security Council has turned various demands made of Iran by the IAEA Board of Governors into 'international obligations' (though whether they are right to believe that can be disputed). These demands include suspending uranium enrichment work at Natanz and Qom and reactor construction at Arak, re-applying and ratifying the Additional Protocol, and transparency measures that extend beyond the formal requirements of the standard IAEA safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol. These stiff conditions make it hard to be optimistic about the P5+1/Iran talks that are due to resume later this month. Iranian spokesmen have been reiterating that they are not prepared to discuss a halt to uranium enrichment. Tehran's unwillingness to re-apply the Additional Protocol as long as Iran remains subject to UN sanctions is well-documented. And experience suggests that Iran's leaders are resilient enough to withstand the 'pressures' (sanctions) to which they have been subjected.