he top United Nations nuclear watchdog said Tuesday that Iran had tentatively agreed to allow international inspections of sites believed to be connected to nuclear weapons research. The potentially significant breakthrough, on the eve of the opening of new Iran nuclear negotiations being held in Baghdad, come after the U.S. and Europe imposed harsh sanctions aimed at drying up income from oil sales that Tehran desperately needs. Is this a sign that the increased pressure is causing the Iranian regime to buckle?
Maybe Iran really is caving: It's still unclear what's motivating Iran's leaders, says Alan Elsner at Reuters. History tells us that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons, and they'll resort to trickery to buy themselves time. But they're also facing the toughest sanctions ever, so it just might be that this time "the sanctions are biting so hard that the Iranian leadership is finally looking for a way out of the crisis."
"Don't forget Iran’s record of deception"
Huh? These phony concessions are meaningless: This deal is just an easy way for Iran "to create the appearance of progress," says Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, so it can "forestall an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities by convincing President Obama and other Western leaders that it is serious about compromise." The reality, though, is that we won't be "making genuine progress" until Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium or shutter its centrifuges altogether.
"What does Iran's nuclear deal mean?"
And we're only delaying the inevitable: Iran is desperate to get the oil sanctions lifted, says Fareed Zakaria at CNN. The trouble is, "unless Iran halts all enrichment and dismantles its nuclear program, the diplomatic process is irrelevant to many Israeli officials." They believe Iran will stop at nothing to get the bomb, and they're only holding off on a military strike to respect President Obama's wish to get through November without a fight. After the election, all bets are off.
"'Reality check' for Iran nuclear talks"
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