The Washington Post is reporting that an article published on the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence website suggests that Tehran is open to talks. According to the Post, the document is a “sober analysis assessing the possible threat of a military confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program and highlighting the benefits of negotiations to avert a deeper crisis.”
However, it seems that the article never says anything about “negotiations.” Rather, according to a pro-regime website, “the analysis recommended giving diplomatic and political measures more room to work and using the potential of international organizations to prevent a possible attack against Iran.”
What Iran’s intelligence ministry means by “diplomatic and political measures” includes a broad spectrum of possibilities, many of which hardly resemble what Western policymakers, analysts, and journalists might consider “political” measures.
For instance, such initiatives might entail more assassinations in Lebanon, and the further destabilization of that country. Political measures might also include other acts of terrorism on various fronts, operations waged directly by the regime or its Hezbollah ally. It might also include destabilizing American allies, especially those bordering Syria, like Turkey and Jordan. The point of any Iranian political and diplomatic measures is clear—to roll back U.S. and E.U. sanctions while still getting the bomb.
The timing of the paper’s publication is noteworthy. It was posted on Tuesday coinciding with the U.S. presidential elections. The intelligence ministry, according to the pro-regime website, “published another report on the policies of the US presidential candidates towards Iran arguing that ‘the policies of the Republicans are very close to the policies of the Zionist regime, and they are explicitly for using military force against Iran’s nuclear facilities… However, the Democrats’ views… are completely different.”
In other words, Obama “hopes to solve this issue peacefully and through diplomacy,” and this is the path the regime should clear for the newly reelected president, while also making the other option clear to him by “increasing military preparedness to counter hostile actions.” When the Iranians scrambled two air force jets last week to fire at an American drone flying over international waters in the Persian Gulf, they were perhaps presenting the White House with the less desirable alternative, open warfare in the Gulf.
In any case, even if the intelligence ministry article doesn’t go as far as promising direct U.S.-Iran negotiations, the prospect of such talks, says one former Israeli intelligence official, plays into the hands of the Iranians. “The grand bargain that they expect is that Iran will be able to keep the 20 percent enriched uranium in return for assurances and a commitment not to weaponize. Once this receives approval of the P5+1, the sanctions will begin to be rolled back and the U.S. will commit itself to dissuading Israel from attacking. Iran may also suggest some sweeteners like helping the U.S. exit Afghanistan without obstacles from the Iranian side and extraditing al Qaeda people who are in Iranian hands.”
“The only flaw in the Iranians’ assumption,” says the former Israeli official, “is that Israel won’t attack without U.S. support.”