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Smart Power and Iran’s 3D Strategy

On July 18, Hillary Clinton published an op-ed in New Statesman entitled “The Art of Smart Power,” listing among its “successes” the maintenance of “broad-based pressure on Iran and North Korea.” Her judgment seems a bit premature, as (a) sanctions have not stopped Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons, and (b) North Korea obtained (and retains) such weapons notwithstanding similar smart power pressure. Pressure that has not achieved its goal is not generally considered a success, much less the occasion for a self-congratulatory essay.

A better example of “success” might be the Iranian strategy described in Irwin Cotler’s report in the Jerusalem Post yesterday. Colter noted that Hamidreza Taraghi, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently described five Iranian successes:

First, Western countries did not want Iran to have a nuclear power plant, but its Bushehr reactor was now connected to the national grid.

Second, the West had opposed Iran having heavy water facilities, but the country now has one in Arak.

Third, the West had said no to any enrichment, “But here we are, enriching as much as we need for our nuclear energy program,” Taraghi said, referring to the thousands of cascades of centrifuges spinning for years in the half-underground facility in Natanz.

Fourth, since January, and on the eve of the resumed substantive negotiations in Istanbul in April, dozens more advanced centrifuges were installed in the Fordo mountain bunker complex, near Qum, built to withstand a heavy attack.

Fifth, Taraghi also said that in the Istanbul talks, Iran had managed to convince the West of the importance of a religious edict, or fatwa, against the possession of nuclear weapons.

In a word, Taraghi and other Iranian officials concluded that their policy “forced the United States to accept Iranian enrichment,” and in effect, the related nuclear program.

Cotler calls it the “Iranian 3D strategy” — denial, deception, delay — in which “not only are negotiations themselves a delaying tactic, but delaying the negotiations is itself a tactic,” combined with the continued avoidance of inspections and repeated refusals to comply with unambiguous treaty obligations.

While the American secretary of state writes paeans to her art, Iran gets closer every day to its ultimate goal, as it creates facts on (and underneath) the ground. Smart.


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